When Gary Irvine signed up to serve as a soldier in the Territorial Army, he would not have believed his new-found hobby would last for almost 30 years.
But the Gulberwick man has now been recognised for his com-mitment and length of service at a special ceremony in Lerwick’s TA hall.
Corporal Irvine has been presented with the Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate for Meritorious Service – an award given to deserving candidates in the reserve or cadet forces.
The 47-year-old launched his TA career when he was staying in Orkney in 1984. But two years later he was based in Lerwick having moved up to Shetland.
He has served as a medic in the intervening years, and insists he has gained much from his regular training and service in far-flung places, including a 1996 stint in Bosnia.
The occupational health nurse at the Sullom Voe oil terminal gives up much of his spare time for the local volunteer regiment. He was nominated for the prestigious award by battery commander Dave Findlay.
Major Findlay insisted Corporal Irvine had played a significant role in the town’s TA base, and had often put other peoples’ interests before his own.
“Being a Junior NCO with an isolated troop has led Corporal Irvine to become involved in aspects of the unit he would not normally be a part of, and he has stepped up and grasped the opportunity to mentor and further the careers of soldiers before his own,” said Major Findlay.
“Whether it is teaching medical training or processing recruit paperwork, Corporal Irvine is always willing to play his part.
“Due to logistical problems, there is often no officer or per-manent staff instructor available in Lerwick. However it is again due to the diligence and professionalism of Corporal Irvine that 105th Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers) maintains a very effective troop in Shetland.
“He is always keen to be involved in all aspects of troop duties and ensures a high standard is maintained.
“Corporal Irvine is an extremely hard-working soldier and, due to his chosen career path, he has often had to stand by while others have been promoted ahead of him. I am extremely proud that he has never let this dampen his spirit or his enthusiasm and drive for success.”
As for the man himself, Corporal Irvine said he was honoured and “humbled” to receive the recognition. And he was more than willing to recommend a career in the Territorial Army.