A BASINGSTOKE college has received an award for allowing staff time off work to serve in the armed forces.
The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan, gave the award to Lance Corporal Andy Chilton, a hospitality and catering lecturer at Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT), who is also a member of the Reserve Forces with the Royal Engineers.
The college, in Worting Road, allows him time off from his day job to train to drive military vehicles, and at any point he could be asked to serve in Afghanistan or elsewhere abroad.
In return, SaBRE (Support for Britain’s Reservists and Employers) pays BCoT for Lance Cpl Chilton’s time away from work. The organisation is part of the Ministry of Defence.
Lance Cpl accepted the SaBRE award on behalf of the college at a ceremony held at The Great Hall, in Winchester.
He said: “The college has never said ‘no’ to me which is what’s really good about working there.”
The 31-year-old father-of-two, from Chineham, has worked at BCoT for seven years, and has been part of the Reserve Forces for five years.
He said: “I always wanted to do it from when I left school. We train every Tuesday and have one or two weeks of field-based exercise. I normally do about four weeks a year but I could be called to Afghanistan at any time. They normally say that everyone in the Reserve Forces should get deployed every five to seven years.”
He added: “A lot of people don’t realise it’s a paid role and it’s a proper job, and it takes up a lot of time and work to juggle both worlds. But I enjoy learning new things, meeting lots of people and being part of something.”
Anthony Bravo, principal at BCoT, said he was “delighted” the college had been given the award, adding: “Andy is an outstanding member of staff, and as a college, we are totally committed to supporting his work as a Reservist. It is an honour to have him on our team.”