It was ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ – but with a twist at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) to mark Reserves Day.

Reserves Day at the Oswestry-based hospital has become somewhat of a highlight in the Trust’s yearly calendar – and despite social distancing measures being in place, this year was no exception.

To mark the occasion and the fact that it’s also Armed Forces Week, Horatio’s Garden, which is located outside of the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI), was transformed into a makeshift field harbour area – which is where those serving cook, while on duty – to allow Spinal Injuries Consultants, Mr Joy Chowdhury and Mr Srinivasa Budithi to take part in a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ style cooking challenge.

However, it wouldn’t be an RJAH Reserves Day challenge without a twist – this year’s twist being the pair would each be cooking a starter, main and pudding from a ration pack for Acting Chief Executive, Stacey Keegan to judge, based on taste and presentation skills.

The aim of the event ultimately was to raise awareness of Reserves Day and the contribution NHS personnel make to the Armed Forces.

Reserves Day is an annual event, when Reserves swap their regular work uniforms for their military clothing to raise the profile of their voluntary service roles.

There are four members of staff at RJAH, who serve as Army Reserves with the 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital – they are Rebecca Warren, MCSI Ward Manager; Maggie Durrant, Service Improvement Facilitator;  Helen Weavers, a Physiotherapist on MCSI; and Megan Painter, also a Physiotherapist on MCSI.

The idea for this year’s task was the brainchild of Rebecca – and the eventual winner was Mr Srinivasa Budithi, whose ration-pack chocolate pudding helped him close in on success.

Rebecca said: “We always pull out all the stops to mark and raise awareness of Reserves Day, and although this year we were slightly limited in what we could do because of the social distancing measures we need to adhere to, it just meant that we had to be even more creative than usual.

“I think Mr Chowdhury, Mr Budithi and Stacey really enjoyed taking part in the challenge, and I think the staff and patients, who were able to watch it enjoyed it too. Many commented that it helped them to gain a bit more understanding of some of the skills, which are required to be a Reservist.

“My military experience complements my NHS role as a Ward Manager on a daily basis. The skills I’ve gained as a Reservist include strong leadership, clear communication and a team working approach. I’m extremely proud of my service and being a Reservist, it’s made me who I am today.”

In previous years to mark Reserves Day, staff have taken part in an assault course on the hospital field, as well as a command task in the hospital’s main entrance.

Stacey added: “It was great fun to be part of this year’s Reserves Day celebrations. It was a really fantastic opportunity to highlight our fantastic Reservists.

“All of us at RJAH are incredibly proud of the dedication, professionalism and contribution that Rebecca, Helen, Maggie and Megan make to the hospital and local health system, as part of their Reservist roles.”