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Today (June 25) is a national celebration of military veterans as part of Armed Forces Week. Bernicia apprentice Joiner, Nick Riordan (pictured above) served six years at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire. Here’s his story.
The discipline and self-reliance learned as an integral part of life in the Royal Air Force is standing apprentice joiner Nick Riordan in good stead as he pursues a career with Bernicia.
Nick, 29, served for six years at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland and RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire as medical cover on the bases, rising to the rank of corporal.
He is one of 20 Bernicia employees who are military veterans or currently part of the armed forces, or who have spouses and partners who are.
Bernicia is proudly signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, committed to supporting people leaving the services with employment, housing and careers opportunities.
For a lad born and raised in Manchester, a posting on joining the RAF to rural Northumberland was certainly a break from the norm.
“It was a little bit of a culture shock, I was living on the camp at Boulmer and it was certainly different to Manchester,” said Nick.
“We were medical cover on the base and did a lot of training. I then went on to do four months of medical evacuation in Afghanistan.
“There were two streams of medical evacuation – evacuating British and NATO troops back to the UK and Afghan troops, police and civilians.
“It was harrowing at times but I enjoyed being able to provide the help we did.”
After six years with the RAF, Nick began to look for a fresh challenge in his life.
“I wanted a trade, I wanted to be a joiner and I found the Bernicia apprenticeship on a website,” he said.
“Joinery was something that had always interested me. I wanted a physical job and had looked at being a paramedic but this apprenticeship gave me the chance to do what I wanted while staying in the North East.
“A lot of places run apprenticeships for people up to 24 but I was lucky to be able to start with Bernicia at 26.”
Nick and his partner Abigail and their son Tommy live in the Alnwick area and – now into the third and final year of his apprenticeship – working on home repairs and maintenance across Northumberland properties gives him a great home/work life balance.
“If you’d said to me four years ago that I’d be working as a joiner I’d never have believed you,” said Nick.
“It’s a good place to be at Bernicia, a good place to be if you are leaving the armed forces looking for a new challenge.
“The structure and discipline of the military, its ethos, helps me, gives me the confidence with people to be able to do my job.
“It’s great that Bernicia are signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant. I’m lucky that I’ve got a van, that I get to work in the area that I live which is great for me and my family.”