An army champion weightlifter from Pencoed has called on more sports enthusiasts to follow suit and join the reserves to reach their athletic potential.
As a reservist with the 211 Battery of 104th Regiment Royal Artillery, Natalie O’Shea has won nationwide weightlifting competitions after receiving financial and logistical support from the army.
Natalie said: “The Armed Forces is the perfect place for my interests. I put all of my efforts in to powerlifting and received a lot of support. The army has paid for my transport, accommodation, fuel and entry fees for competitions. It hasn’t cost me anything, they taken stress away and it has helped me to bring back gold medals.
“There’s nothing better than being paid to do something you love and enjoy. In my case, it’s powerlifting but it might be another sport for someone else and the army can help them, too. Some people think the reserves it just about firing weapons but there are so many other routes to go down.”
Natalie, who is 31-years-old and a rugby player for Pencoed RFC’s women team, dedicates at least 27 days of her year to service. Many reservists will mark today’s nationwide Reserves Day celebrations by wearing their uniform to work to raise awareness.
The commitment is combined with Natalie’s day job as a Training Instructor for the Motivational Preparation College for Training (MPCT), which is dedicated to offering opportunities to young people through training and education.
MPCT has signed the Armed Forces Covenant, a pledge to the nation that past and present Service personnel are treated fairly. They have also won the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award for their support and Natalie is thankful for the opportunities they have enabled.
“I have a full time job, so a lot of my training has to be done on weekends but MPCT are good and give me certain days off to be with my unit,” said Natalie. “There’s always someone who knows something that can help you, all you have to do it look for help and ask for it.”
Natalie, a former regular soldier, holds the rank of Gunner and has worked towards a range of qualifications with 104th Regiment Royal Artillery. These studies have covered driving qualifications as Natalie works towards a Large Goods Vehicle license, though it doesn’t distract from her sporting ambitions.
She said: “I’m hoping to do the combined services powerlifting competition next against the Royal Navy and RAF (Royal Air Force). I’m just waiting for the team to be announced and I’ll be going for gold in September then. I can’t wait and I’m really grateful for the support from the Army Reserve.”
There are more than 2,200 reservists in Wales, who are a vital and valued part of the Defence family. Reservists make up approximately one sixth of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces personnel.
This week, a series of nationwide events will culminate with the national Armed Forces Day at Llandudno on Saturday 30 June. Use #SaluteOurForces to join in the online activities.
Want to try something extraordinary? Click here to find out more about becoming a reservist in Wales.