MBE honour caps off busy year for Morson Forces ambassador Andy Reid

Starting 2019 in hospital mentally and physically drained was not something that featured in Andy Reid’s plans…

But, as he remarked publicly at the time, when you’re at rock bottom, there’s only one way you can go and that’s up. The course of his life so far has gone a long way towards illustrating that, and the MBE is the latest in a string of personal achievements he can lay claim to. 

Andy is no stranger to hospital beds or being physically and mentally drained. A veteran of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, he lost both his legs and his right arm after stepping on an IED plate whilst serving in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2009.

Following an upwards struggle that tested not only his physical endurance but his mental steel across several years of rehabilitation, Andy was standing tall again and by 2013 had committed his experience to print in his own book. He now focusses his time helping and inspiring others through motivational talks and charity events.

In 2017 he became Morson’s ex-forces ambassador through a chance meeting with Morson CEO Ged Mason. “I got asked to deliver a motivational talk at Wigan Athletic because they were on a losing run and their manager at the time lived in my village. As a thank you, they invited me to watch them play Manchester United, and after the game I was invited to Sir Alex Ferguson’s box. In there I first met Ged. They offered me a glass of red wine which I had to decline because I was training for the Warrior Challenge! I got talking to Ged a couple of weeks later went to see him at Morson’s head office in Salford.

“I explained what the Warrior Challenge entailed, which was 400 miles of cycling and 125 miles of kayaking to lay wreaths in memory of some of my mates who paid the ultimate sacrifice in a Warrior armoured vehicle. I was delighted that he offered to sponsor that, and I was invited to speak at the Morson annual conference later that year.”

They stayed in touch and eventually the conversation turned to a more formal role. Andy spoke to Ged about what he thought he could offer Morson from an ambassadorial point of view and Ged offered him a position immediately, commenting “Andy was chosen as an ambassador because his determination, optimism and integrity means that he is a true role model, not only for the ex-forces, but for the wider community. He has been an inspiration for our candidates, clients and staff.”

Morson Forces, the Morson Group’s ex-forces recruitment arm, specialises in transitioning service personnel into new careers. As a holder of the Ministry of Defence’s highest badge of honour for organisations who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and demonstrated outstanding support for veterans (the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Award) Morson currently has over 2,500 ex-forces personnel on assignment across industries including aerospace and defence.

Andy’s role as Morson Forces ambassador has seen him act as a conduit between the expert recruiters in the business and the armed forces community, many of whom have no idea what their future will hold once they complete their service and require assistance in seeing where the skills they have obtained can fit into civilian life. “If I had not been injured, I would have completed my 22 years in the army and naturally I would have then been looking for a new career and a new job. I want to help people in that position because I know how challenging that can be.”

Pat McMullan, account manager for Morson Forces, sees Andy’s presence as vital at recruitment roadshows. “Andy has continued to support Morson Forces by attending events and manning the Morson stand at both the CTP and BFRS UK roadshows in support of service leavers, veterans and spouses. Through both his previous service career and as ambassador for Morson Group he has been pivotal in attracting candidates to the stand and help us integrate further with both service leavers and military units and contacts across the UK.”

Throughout 2019, he’s attended CTP and BFRS UK events in Salford, Stafford, Catterick, Newcastle, Aldershot and more. To aid his mission with Morson moving forwards, Andy has recently taken delivery of his new branded Morson Forces vehicle to aid his travel between events. “I’d like to thank Reflex for their support in helping to provide the Morson branded van, which looks great and is a fantastic advert for the company.”

Andy has also written a comprehensive and popular online resettlement plan, covering steps forces personnel can take to prepare while still serving, a CV writing tips, advice for living in the civilian world and a jargon buster.

Experiencing mental health issues first-hand, Andy has also leant his experience to Morson’s wellbeing programme which tackles the stigma of mental health in the workplace through events and workshops.

“I think all ex-servicemen will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at some stage in their lives, it may not be immediately after leaving the army, it could be whilst they are still serving in the armed forces or it could be as long as 20, 30 or 40 years later. I think it’s just down to the individual really but I think at some point all servicemen will suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues. For me it’s about helping as many people as I can and raising awareness that people absolutely aren’t alone.” 

When Andy isn’t helping Morson recruit ex-forces talent, he’s engaged himself in a considerable amount of charity work. His most recent venture saw him taking part in the Frontline Walk, a 100km commemorative walk in France and Belgium with ABF The Soldier’s Charity. The route took the walker across the landing beaches and battlefields that were stormed on the D-Day landings 75 years previously. 

Other activity saw him handcycle between the charities and businesses for whom he is an ambassador in the North West and an abseil off the top of Morson’s head office in Salford. From these activities, Andy successfully raised £10,000 for The Soldier’s Charity throughout the year – £1,000 for every year since his injury. 

Capping off a busy year
On Tuesday 26th November 2019, Andy Reid officially received an MBE honour at Buckingham Palace for voluntary service to veterans and to people with disabilities in St Helens. It’s particularly poignant for Andy that he received this award just weeks after the tenth anniversary of his injury. “It’s really nice timing, and it’s really capped off a great year,” reflects Andy. 

With his wife Claire and his young son William, Andy headed to London the night before the ceremony to enjoy some quality family time. “We went to the Christmas markets and I took William on the London Eye. In the morning, we got a taxi to Buckingham Palace and I got the taxi driver to drive in through the Palace gates. He was quite excited by that, he’d never done that before!”

Once he was in the main courtyard, Andy spent a lot of time meeting others who were receiving their individual awards. “It was a really diverse bunch of people.”

Prince William presented the awards. “I met Prince Charles in 2010 and Prince Harry in 2011 but I’d never met Prince William. It was really special to receive the award from him given the fact that he’d been in the armed forces.” 

Following the ceremony, they headed across to the Shard to celebrate. “It was glasses of champagne and some posh sandwiches! Then my mate Glen Hughes and his wife came along and we all celebrated at the Union Jack pub.”

As for what 2020 is going to bring, Andy already has his eyes set on his next extreme challenge. “The one I have in mind is a 400-mile bike ride across every country of the United Kingdom in four days. That will be a tough one but I’d like to do it in May next year. Other than that, it’s developing my relationship with Morson and working hard to transition more ex-servicemen and women.”

As the year draws to a close, Andy can reflect with certainty that it’s been a successful conclusion. “It’s been the icing on the cake for the end of this year really. Hopefully I can relax now and end the year in a better way than it started by enjoying Christmas and New Year with my family.” 

Take a look at Andy’s Resettlement Plan: www.tinyurl.com/morsonforces

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