As we are an Air Ambulance charity, you might expect us to attract a number of former military personnel in the form of pilots, and certainly several of our pilots have served and one remains a reservist. 

Elsewhere, 4 of our clinical operations team are military veterans (including one reservist), as well as 2 of our retail team and 2 staff members at our head office. We also have 4 military doctors with whom we work in partnership with the MoD.

As it's Armed Forces Day on 21 June we are keen to acknowledge the valuable expertise that our former military personnel bring to their current roles.  

We speak to our newest veteran, Logistics Support Officer, Rhys Lucas, who spent 8 years serving as a Communications Submariner in the Royal Navy. 

From the ocean to hitting the road

For many years, Rhys, who grew up in West London, nurtured a wish to travel. When he finished sixth form college in West London in 2007, Rhys decided to join the navy and was soon located to Devonport in Plymouth where he trained as a Communications Submariner.

Adapting to submarine life was a unique experience for Rhys, whose longest dive was 8 weeks and the longest time out of the UK serving on overseas operations was just over 8 months. Of his limited contact with the outside world Rhys says:

Shifts were six hours on, six hours off. In the down time it was important to eat and sleep, so there wasn't a lot of time for recreational as such. The work itself was very stimulating, but it was an interesting experience to adjust to the normal world later on.

Rhys' Navy career spanned 8 years and he left in 2015 when he made the adjustment back into civilian life, taking a role in a recruitment agency. He moved back to Devon where he had undertaken his training.

From here he took his HGV license and picked up work through a recruitment agency as a driver for Devon Air Ambulance. Rhys soon became a member of staff for the charity where his daily duties are varied and he spends a lot more time above sea level. 

I like the variety of tasks and responsibilities at Devon Air Ambulance. I can be delivering items in the van one day and dressing up as the charity mascot, Ambrose, at an event the next. I mingle with people from across the charity, from the office where I'm based, to the 19 charity shops and the warehouse. 

Contributing to the future of the charity

Rhys is enthusiastic about bringing his ideas to his new role, and making a positive contribution to a charity that is supportive of former veterans as well. 

I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to serve in the Navy; it was a great honour and the experience has set me up for life. Now I'm pleased to be part of another great working experience and environment - one in which people are trying to do good. I'm looking forward to continuing to support the charity in my role.

If you would like to lend your skills to supporting Devon Air Ambulance then we always welcome volunteers who contribute enormously to keep Devon's two Air Ambulances flying.

Find out more about volunteering

Page banner: Logistics Support Officer, Rhys (left) and Sarah Parkhouse, Assistant Van Driver (right)