STAFF at two Huddersfield firms left their workshops and offices to sample the army life.

Workers at Colnebridge-based nursery products firm Mamas & Papas and Lepton-based engineering company Reliance Precision took part in a special exercise organised by the military.

Nine staff from each company joined almost 100 employees from other organisations across the region for a demanding three-day challenge held at Catterick Training Area near Richmond, North Yorkshire.

It involved working in teams on 11 challenges, including launching a search and rescue mission for a downed RAF pilot, abseiling down a sheer drop and crossing a water course to erect a Navy signal.

The exercise – Merlin Executive – was run by employees who also serve as Reservists in the Navy, Marines, Army or RAF in units across the region.

The three-day course, organised by reservist unit 72 Engineer Regiment, provided a chance for business people to work on their leadership, teamwork and communication skills, as well as gain a valuable insight into the transferable skills that Reservists develop during similar training exercises.

Caroline Twells, senior brand marketing manager at Mamas & Papas, said: “The whole exercise was enormous fun, although incredibly tiring as well!

“The environment and challenges you’re thrown into are extraordinary and you learn so much – about yourself as much as the leadership and teamwork skills.

“The soldiers around us were simply superb. They looked after us brilliantly and gave us all an experience we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”

Phil Daniels, the firm’s human resources manager, said: “I loved every minute! Not only because of the sheer fun we had, but also the self-confidence it gives you and in your capabilities, especially your capacity for leadership, communication and teamwork.

“Even more importantly perhaps, it highlights the type of training that’s available through the Reserve Forces and the value those skills provide to employers. Everyone should give it a go!”

Col Carron Snagge, chief executive of the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association in Yorkshire and Humber, said: “The exercise was a great success and enjoyed by all. But there’s also a serious side to the whole event about the benefits a Reservist can bring to employers.

“The training they receive is the same as the Regular Forces, and, besides this preparing them for mobilisation to places like Afghanistan, it also provides them valuable skills in business – motivation, self-discipline, confidence, communication, teamwork and leadership to name just a few. We want to encourage employers and employees to consider what the Reserve Forces have to offer, and this is one very exciting way of doing that.”

Go to