A Sunderland nursing student has marked an important milestone with her pledge to serve her country.
Hayley Fairweather is the first University of Sunderland student nurse to complete her Army Reservist Training as part of a partnership with the Armed Forces.
The 26-year-old took her Oath of Allegiance during a special ceremony on campus watched by officers of the 251 Medical Squadron, the university’s Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell, and academics from the nursing team.
The university has a longstanding relationship of mutual support with the Army’s Medical Services, and in particular 251 Medical Squadron at Seaburn, and has supported military training events with staff and equipment, and the Medical Squadron has attended university's open days.
Students interested in the reserves take part in team-building activities, leadership exercises and trauma days, creating an awareness of medical careers in the Armed Forces.
"It was such a proud day for me to take the Oath of Allegiance,” beamed Hayley, a third-year nursing student who comes from a family of military personnel, her father was in the Royal Marines and brother is in the Royal Navy.
She said: "I always had a big interest in the Armed Forces, but never previously had the guts to go and do it. But, once I found out about the link-up between the university and 251 Medical Squadron, I signed up for the team-building days and it went from there.
"I would recommend that any student sign up, it’s great for building confidence, teamwork and leadership skills."
Recruitment Officer WO1 Dennis Mustard, said: "Hayley took her Oath of Allegiance after completing her training package, passing her medical and fitness tests, and is now a fully-fledged Army Reserve Soldier.
"She is the first student nurse that we have attested into 251Medical Squadron, thanks to a partnership we embarked upon over two years ago, with the university, which is fantastic.
"As we’re a Medical Squadron, we focus on nurses and paramedics through the reserves.
"The students who sign up learn command, leadership and communication skills, they gain confidence which is great preparation for them to work in the NHS as part of a big team under a lot of pressure.
"It’s also an extra hobby for them, they get paid and the minimum commitment is to serve 27 days per year."
Former nursery nurse Hayley was attested by Major McDermott-Moses and was followed by another nursing student, Gavin Middlemass, who has also taken his Oath of Allegiance and is now able to serve his country as an Army Reservist.
Gavin, 32, from Sunderland, who joined after speaking to WO1 Mustard at an open day, said: "I looked at the opportunities available and it’s been fantastic. You’re pushed to your limits which gives you the confidence to go into any kind of pressure situation."
Sue Brent, Head of School of Nursing and Health Sciences, added: “This is fantastic news for our School of Nursing and demonstrates the dedication of our staff in support of our students and the Armed Forces. They are encouraging our students to go a step beyond their nursing studies and to take every opportunity that they can. We are incredibly proud of what they’re achieving.”