THE Welsh Ambulance Service has been honoured for its outstanding support towards the Armed Forces community.

The service has received the Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award which celebrates organisations that employ and support those who serve, both veterans and their families.

In 2019, the Trust signed Step into Health’s Armed Forces Covenant and pledged to support members of the Armed Forces community to gain employment in the NHS.

It also recruited Veterans Champions from across the Trust to support new starters to make the transition into civilian life and provide one-to-one support and mentorship.

There were 140 awardees this year, and the Welsh Ambulance Service is one of 10 organisations in Wales to have been recognised.

Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “We’re delighted to have been recognised as a Gold-standard employer in this year’s awards.

“As a uniformed service, we’re immensely proud of our strong links with the military, both regular and reservists, as well as their families.

“The military were critical in supporting our ambulance service during one of the most challenging periods in its history, so we’re keen to ensure that we reciprocate that fantastic commitment with strong support of the Armed Forces community.”

Dozens of veterans work across the ambulance service having served in the Armed Forces, and are supported by a growing number of reservists.

More than 200 British Army soldiers also assisted the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.

Andy Haywood, Royal Navy Officer turned Director of Digital Services, and the Trust’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “There are a lot of similarities between the Armed Forces and emergency services, not to mention the transferrable skills, so it’s no surprise that members of that community will gravitate towards a career in the ambulance service.

“We’re extremely proud of the veterans who work in the service, and of our growing number of reservists too.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the military and were very grateful to have secured their support in the collective effort against Covid-19.

“We hope that their glimpse into the world of the ambulance service was as rewarding an experience for them as it was for us.”

To win an award, organisations must provide 10 extra paid days leave for reservists and have supportive HR policies in place for veterans, reservists and cadet force adult volunteers, as well as spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces.

They must also advocate the benefits of supporting those within the Armed Forces community by encouraging others to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and engage in the Employer Recognition Scheme.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty, said: “I would like to thank all the organisations who have proven their support for the defence community during such unprecedented and challenging times.

“The vast range of those recognised this year demonstrates how employing the Armed Forces community makes a truly positive and beneficial impact for all employers, regardless of size, sector or location.”

This year’s awardees brings the total number of Gold holders to 493.

Organisations include NHS trusts, educational institutions, financial services, hotels, charities, law firms, police services, football clubs and museums.

Nearly 50 per cent are a small or medium-sized enterprise and 72 per cent are private companies.