Gwent Army medics honoured in freedom parade

Free Press Series: Reserve soldiers from 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital paraded outside Cardiff City Hall as part of the Queen Birthday celebrations. Pictured is Captain Chris Richards from Caldicot. (5554529) Reserve soldiers from 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital paraded outside Cardiff City Hall as part of the Queen Birthday celebrations. Pictured is Captain Chris Richards from Caldicot. (5554529)

WELSH Army medics were honoured in a Freedom Parade today to recognise the significant contribution the unit makes to the area.

Reserve soldiers from 203 (Welsh) Field Hospital - including those from Gwent - marched through Cardiff following a Royal Gun Salute at City Hall in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday and were awarded the Freedom of the City and County of Cardiff in honour of their services to the city.

The medical unit, known as the Welsh Medics, will be only the ninth organisation to receive the honour since 1886.

The Welsh Medics were established in the mid 1990s, although there have been Welsh Reserve Hospital elements based out of Cardiff under various names since World War One.

Based at the Territorial Army centre at Llandaff North, the unit supports the regular army on operations by supplying high quality individual replacements of key medical professionals. Personnel from the unit have been deployed in support of many operations including the Falklands Conflict, the Gulf War, the Balkans conflict, the Iraq War and peace keeping in Northern Ireland and Cyprus.

Colonel Tina Donnelly, commanding officer 203 of the Field Hospital said: “It was an absolute privilege for the unit to be able to provide urgent and routine hospital care to all those who needed us in our recent tour of duty.

“I have been on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and I commanded the field hospital in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

“I trained as a nurse in Northern Ireland in Belfast and a midwife.

“I wanted to give something back.

“Having the freedom of the city is a huge accolade for the unit.

“It's an absolute privilege."

203 (Welsh) Field Hospital recently returned from its second unit tour of Afghanistan, serving in Camp Bastion as the hospital providing vital clinical care to deployed forces in need and also for the locally injured personnel in what is one of the leading trauma units in the world. There are currently eight members of the unit still on operations and they will return at the beginning of May.

Tim Sheppard is and army medic reserve working at Abergavenny's Nevill Hall Hospital as an obstetrics and gynecology registrar, he is a Major B Squadron, 203 Abergavenny, Royal Army Medical Care.

Mr Sheppard, 34, found the parade to be a ‘moving experience.’

“The parade was quite a moving experience,” he said.

“I felt really proud to stand with the rest of the unit together as a team.

“I have been in the unit since 1998 when I joined as a medical student.

“I served with them in 2008 and was based in Camp Bastion for three and a half months.

“It was a very positive experience and I learnt a lot of lessons which set me up for subsequent deployment.

“I was with 68 others and it was fantastic team work.

“I did everything from helping people with everyday medical problems to those suffering major trauma.”

Chris Richards, 58, from Caldicot, is Captain of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

"I was a regular soldier first and I have been a reservist officer since 1997."

He had served in countries including Germany, Cyprus, Gibralter, Brunei, Botswana and the Falklands.

"I met my wife at Beachley Barracks.

“We went around the world with the army and settled in Caldicot."

After finding an interest in first aid with St John's Ambulance he went on to do the job with the army.

"When people became injured on the front line I'd give them first aid treatment and be with them on the way back to the hospital."

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