Army reserve physio gains 'Sword of Honour'

A physiotherapist and army reservist has received a prestigious military award for being the best cadet in her class of 90 trainee officers.

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Major General Ranald Munro presents Natalie Gardner with the MacRobert Sword

Natalie Gardner accepted the award after completing eight weeks of officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Camberley, Surrey.

Assistant chief of defence staff for reserves and cadets, Major General Ranald Munro, presented her with the MacRobert Sword during the course’s final parade.

Ms Gardner told Frontline: ‘I wasn’t expecting it and was shocked to get it, but I felt lucky to have a fair amount of military experience behind me, so I could use the skills I’d picked up from operations abroad and through my training.

‘Also, my experience of being a band 7 physio meant I had a lot of management and leadership training, and that is what Sandhurst is all about –leadership, development, supporting your peers and being able to inspire confidence in those you are working with.’

Critical care practitioner

Ms Gardner has been an army reservist for 10 years and began a two-year master’s degree in critical care at King’s College London, last September.

Before that, she worked full time as a band 7 respiratory physiotherapist at St Helier Hospital in Surrey.

Anne Whittet, acute therapies service manager at St Helier Hospital, said: ‘The army training and experience offered to Natalie throughout her years as a reservist proved to be of considerable benefit to our physiotherapy service, in terms of leadership, resourcefulness and resilience.

‘She was an excellent role model to both the physiotherapy and wider multi-disciplinary team, as she was consistently positive and proactive.’

During her time at the hospital, Ms Gardner completed two six-month military tours, serving as part of a UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus in 2009 and at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in 2013.

After her master’s studies, she aims to move from the Royal Logistic Corps to a medical evacuation regiment.

‘I’m very much looking forward to working as an advanced critical care practitioner, and I want physiotherapy to be firmly embedded within that role,’ she said.

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by Robert Millett

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