RAF job no child’s play for this reservist mum

Cheryl Huntbach at the Butterfly Meadows Children's Centre in her ‘day job’   Picture: OX69528 Jon Lewis

Cheryl Huntbach at the Butterfly Meadows Children's Centre in her ‘day job’ Picture: OX69528 Jon Lewis Buy this photo

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Witney Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Bicester and Banbury. Call me on (01865) 425426

FOR Cheryl Huntbach, the news isn’t just a source of information – it could show her where her next job will be.

During the week, the 47-year-old works in a Butterfly Meadows Children’s Centre in Bloxham, run by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC).

But at the weekend she dons “greens” to work as a military reservist at RAF Brize Norton, helping to load and send cargo all over the world.

Her employers Oxfordshire County Council is today set to join 10 other local organisations vowing to support military reservists.

The ‘corporate covenant’ document is viewed as an expression of the organisation’s commitment to supporting people in Mrs Huntbach’s position.

The mother-of-two took up a reservist role after spotting an advert on the RAF website two-and-a-half years ago.

Mrs Huntbach said: “It is the best of both worlds, I get to work with children in the week and then work with aeroplanes at the weekend.”

Reservists are part-time military personnel and can be called up in times of conflict.

They are paid day rates of between £40 and £60 and are expected to work one weekend a month, including Friday evenings.

Witney Gazette:

  • The mum-of-two is also a Senior Aircraftswoman in the RAF Reserves

Mollington resident Mrs Huntbach had her first taste of military life when she was 22, joining the RAF as a weapons inspector in Lincolnshire, servicing weapons systems and small arms in preparation for the first Gulf War.

But she gave it up three years later after she had her daughter.

She said: “I just thought ‘that sounds exciting’.You used to come home absolu-tely filthy and I loved it.”

Mrs Huntbach, whose children Molly and Kyran are now 22 and 20, said she always missed the camaraderie that came with the job.

But now her husband, Jon, and children are “very proud” of what she does – and so is she.

“I would recommend it to anybody. You have to take some risks in your life and follow your dreams,” she said.

As part of the job, Mrs Huntbach has been to Norway and Lithuania and on countless military parades.

She said her second job does not affect her day-to-day life, but means she watches the news in a different way.

“You sit there and think how is that going to affect me,” she said. “If we were to mobilise, I could end up going to those places.”

The Ministry of Defence is urging more people to sign up for the reserves, after only 140 people in the country signed up in the first half of this year.

It comes in the wake of national cuts to the Army, with the MoD trying to cut the number of full-time troops from 100,000 to 80,000.

Unlike some other workplaces, Mrs Huntbach can go on training courses without taking annual leave.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “Reservists can bring real benefits to an employer, and the armed forces are very keen to do their bit to nurture a two-way relationship and ensure the needs of companies are considered alongside their own.”

Currently OCC has six reservists on its staff, but says it is open to encouraging more staff to take up posts.

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