Know Your Forces, Know Your People

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Our servicemen and women in the armed forces play a vital role in ensuring the places where we live are safe and secure. As Armed Forces Week kicks off today, we all take a moment to acknowledge the dedication and utter commitment these men and women have for the safety of British citizens on home soil and abroad.

At Countryside, we are proud to support current and former servicemen and women. Currently, there are over 60 members of staff connected to the forces either themselves or through their family members. Our commitment is embodied in the Armed Forces Covenant which we signed last year with the Royal Engineers, which aims to double our efforts in recruiting employees with military connections over the next five years. Our programme helps military heroes transition into civilian life in a smooth as possible manner, ensuring their skillset is used in a meaningful way.

We want these individuals to realise that once they have retired from their posts, that their livelihoods do not end there. We value the skills, qualities, and sense of purpose these men and women carry and feel that there is a place for them within our very own community; that is why we welcome them with open arms. To showcase the breadth of talent that the armed forces creates, we spoke to various members of our team with a story to tell on the influence the armed forces has had on them.

Will Bower, Finance Analyst 

“My upbringing helped me to understand and respect different walks of life,” Will starts off by saying. Growing up on a RAF base in Germany might not be a usual childhood for a young boy, but it was for Will. His father’s posting with the British Army to Germany saw Will living abroad for nine years until the age of 11 before enrolling at a military school in Dover. 

Will reiterates his admiration for his father and mother’s work; both of whom were highly accomplished in their fields. Will’s father reached the highly respected rank of Major before retiring in 2006, having served right across the world including Northern Ireland, the Gulf region and former Yugoslavia. Most interestingly, he is one of the few personnel that has served across all three arms of the British Armed Forces, having been attached to the RAF and currently with the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. Will’s mother had always dreamt of becoming a nurse. Her unwavering commitment to others saw her in wide-ranging roles and places over the years through serving in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, notably as a Nursing Sister during the Falklands War. She now works in a private nursing home caring for the elderly.

His parents’ colourful careers and innate sense of service has been instilled in him from an early age. He comments, “Seeing my parents have such rewarding careers has driven me to realise I want the same. I want to apply my experience to my work and grow within a company that will foster that same belief.” Despite not pursuing a military career himself, the values Will has adopted from his parents continue to guide him through life and at work here in Countryside. 

Clint Gillies, Assistant Site Manager

A man that has seen many things during his time in the army, Clint looks back fondly on his 24 years with the Grenadier Guards. “The comradery is something I will never forget. Once you’ve been used to it, it never leaves you,” Clint explains. “I’m proud to have worn the beret and served for Queen and Country.”

Clint was just 16 years of age when he joined the armed forces in 1989. Envisaging a career as a mechanic, Clint jokes, “30 years later I haven’t touched an engine since!” After he walked into the army recruitment office on a whim, the rest was history. Many of his comrades and friends through the years lost their lives which undoubtedly shaped his perception of the world around him. “The bonds you make in the army can’t be easily broken. One of my personal highlights was when I earned a Commendation for Bravery while in Afghanistan, but no one can underestimate the power of brotherhood and comradery,” he explains.

The experiences that have taken him across Iraq, Afghanistan, West Germany and Northern Ireland allow Clint to recognise that the same values and skills are exactly what Countryside looks for. “Health and safety is second nature to us as veterans and the disciplines we are taught made the transition into the construction sector natural,” Clint says. The key attributes that you pick up in the armed forces are easily transferrable in his view.

Since working for Countryside, Clint has excelled in building a rapport with everyone he encounters, whether that be subcontractors or development teams on-site. “We work better together when we understand each other’s goals and ways of working. My time in the forces has given me the skills to craft those all-important relationships,” he goes on to mention. “I was fortunate that Countryside converted my previous qualifications and were able to enrol me straight onto my Level 6 Site Management studies.”

The armed forces provides its men and women with a highly desirable skillset, one which can easily be transferred to other careers, including the construction industry. We are proud to be a housebuilder which supports these ex-veterans to expand on their professional goals.

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L-R: Clint Gillies, Will Bower

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