For Reserves Day 2022, Lowland RFCA spoke with Craftsman (Cfn) Kerry McKnight, a Reservist from 153 Recovery Company REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). After three of her four children moved out of the family home, Cfn McKnight felt it was time to take on a new challenge. Now, as an Army Reserve juggling multiple jobs, university and marathon running, she is busier than ever and loving every minute of it.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name’s Kerry McKnight and I’m an Army Reservist with 153 Rec Coy. I’m also married, a mother of four, and I have four dogs. Right now I’m working through a nursing course, and I work three different jobs so I’m generally pretty busy!
What do your three jobs entail?
I work on two farms, one of which is family-run, I tend the grounds for the Marquess of Ailsa, and I’m on the hospital bank for nursing.
What inspired you to join the Reserves?
I had actually wanted to join for a long time. My uncle was in the Territorial Army and it always sounded fun. Additionally, when my brother was a Regular soldier serving in Afghanistan and Iraq I would write to him and he would tell me all kinds of stories. When my children started leaving home I could feel the ‘empty nest syndrome’ coming on so I decided it was time to do something. On top of everything else I do, I’m also a keen marathon runner so I knew I was still physically fit enough to join. With the Reserves, there are a lot of opportunities open to you so I thought, ‘I’ll go and I’ll learn a trade and be a soldier and hopefully have fun along the way’, and I’ve got to say I’ve definitely had fun along the way.
How do you balance your military, civilian and family life?
It can be quite tricky at times. My Reserve work is my hobby and it happens primarily on weekends so I can normally plan around it, but balancing work and family life is always a bit of a struggle. Having said that, having grown up kids definitely helps, as they’re quite happy if you just take them out for the odd dinner!
What do you enjoy most about being a Reservist?
Being part of a team. When I was a recruit and I was going through my Phase Training with the rest of my team, I felt like I was making lifelong connections with them. It’s almost a year later and we still talk and meet up when we can, so you feel like you’re all part of an Army family.
The wider unit is also incredibly supportive. 153’s Recruiting Officer has been by my side throughout my whole Reserve journey and the unit’s SPSI (Senior Permanent Staff Instructor) can’t do enough for you either. He’ll send you on any course that you’re available to go on, and provides support and guidance at every step.
What would you say is your proudest Reservist achievement to date?
My proudest achievement so far has to be getting Recruit of the Year. I had no idea that I had been put forward for it, so I was flabbergasted to say the least when I won! When they were reading the announcement I kept thinking, ‘This sounds kind of familiar’, and then when they said my name I just couldn’t believe it, but I’m very proud to have received it.
Do you find that being a Reservist enhances your civilian life and vice versa?
Yes, definitely. It has given me a sense of pride and achievement that’s added to my life and helped me to feel like there’s nothing I can’t do. The physical fitness side of Reservist life has really helped my running and that in turn has enhanced my life.
Reserves Day is taking place on 22 June. What does Reserves Day mean to you personally?
I think anything to do with Reserves Day has to be positive and can really inspire people who might otherwise be afraid to join. When I tell people about the Reserves they ask if I’m scared of being sent off to war and I tell them no because there are so many other opportunities involved with being a Reservist. For me, it’s important to celebrate the soldiers that have gone before, the present soldiers and the soldiers that are going to come after us.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering joining the Reserves?
Do it, absolutely do it. Do it but don’t join light-heartedly because it is hard work. You’ve got to work hard at it, you’ve got to meet a certain level of fitness, you’ve got to have a certain mindset and if you have all those things you’ll do well. If you’re considering joining, talk about it with an experienced Reservist because they’ve got the best information. They’re the ones to tell you what avenue is best to go down or what cap badge would best suit you. Maybe I’m biased but the opportunities are there for the taking and it’s completely worthwhile.
To find out more about this year’s Armed Forces Week, Reserves Day and Armed Forces Day, click here.