A project manager from Newport who went straight out to work after leaving school, is flying high after joining the Royal Air Force Reserves seven years ago.

Corporal Gareth Jones, 32, who has been mentioned in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for meritorious service, is studying for a masters degree in business – as well as working full-time for Deloitte and committing to a minimum of 27 days service a year!

Gareth, a member of 614 Squadron, the only Royal Air Force Reserve unit in Wales, was inspired to join by his late great grandfather who had served as a reservist in World War Two.

And today, June 24, he will be joining thousands of other part-time service personnel in celebrating Reserves Day.

“I really wanted to give something back to society and this allowed me to do that but balance that with my home life, and opportunity for travel,” said Gareth.

“Being in the RAF Reserves has pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me a much more confident and aspirational person. I love the challenge – I am an analyst for the RAF and a project manager, so the skills are absolutely transferable both ways.”

Gareth, who is hoping to obtain his officer’s commission, has obtained an Air Officer Commanding Commendation for meritorious service with a mention in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

During the past seven years he has completed two tours of six months – one working with regiment and RAF police in Suffolk and the other attached to a fast jet squadron.

He’s attended adventurous training in Germany/Austria, a NATO exercise in Germany, another in Norway, a language course in Estonia, a 100-year commemoration of the Battle of Somme in France, a 75-year commemoration of Battle of Britain in Westminster Abbey and a 100-year commemoration of RAF in St Clement Dane.

Surprisingly for a RAF Reserve, Gareth admits to not liking heights so one of his proudest achievements in recent years was rock climbing up Klettersteige in Austria.

“I have gone places I would never have visited, done things I would never have done, made best friends I would never have met, and have developed so many skills and capabilities through the RAF which have gone hand-in-hand with my civilian career and has helped me get promotions I otherwise wouldn’t have – it’s a win/win situation in my view!” added Gareth.

The former Bettws High School pupil who went straight out work after leaving school at 18, is now studying for a masters degree in business in addition to his reserve commitments and full-time job with Deloitte. Through its military transition and talent programme, Deloitte is a leading employer of military personnel and veterans recognising the valuable mind set and skills they bring to the business.

There are 2,200 reservists in Wales and they make up approximately one sixth of the Armed Forces personnel in the United Kingdom. They play a vital role as part of the Defence Family, spending some of their spare time protecting the United Kingdom at home and overseas.

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