A nurse from Ballymoney followed in her father’s footsteps by joining the British Army.
Corporal Caroline Swanson, 22, kept it in the family by joining 204 Field Hospital, based in Belfast. Caroline – whose father Billy is also in the Army – joined the Army Reserve while studying at Queen’s University Belfast. This meant she was able to get experience which helped with her course, including a placement at Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court.
Caroline said: “I did my placement in Headley Court, in terms of rehab facilities it’s one of the best in the world. It was very good training, the nurses and physicians were amazing, and there was so much support for the patients and their families.
“I was there for six weeks and it wasn’t long enough - I would love to go back there some day.”
Caroline is currently taking part in a field hospital exercise at Dishforth Airfield in North Yorkshire. The medics have to build and run a 52-bed tented hospital, which is normally stored in 78 containers and consists of over 100 tents.
Caroline added: “This is my first field hospital exercise, I’ve been surprised by how it can go from a load of boxes to a fully functioning hospital. I hope to get an idea of what it’s like being on tour and to bond with the team and the unit while developing as a nurse and taking away new skills.”
Caroline is currently working at the Royal Free Hospital in London – but hopes to move back to Northern Ireland in the future.
She says the Army Reserve has helped her develop both personally and professionally.
Caroline added: “I love working as a nurse, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve done in my life. I work in liver transplant at the moment, I see people come in really sick and they leave much better. The Army Reserve ties in well with my day job – it has really developed my nursing skills and there is a very nice financial bonus too.”