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Belper health centre reservist appointed to Armed Forces champion role

Christine Ongoma, right, with Amanda Wildgust, head of people services at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust.
Christine Ongoma, right, with Amanda Wildgust, head of people services at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust.

A clinical trainee at a Belper medical centre has been appointed as a ‘Reserves Champion’ in recognition of her sideline career in the military.

Christine Ongoma, who is working to become an advanced clinical practitioner at Whitemoor Medical Centre, spends her spare time serving as a reservist with the Army Reserve’s 212 Field Hospital in Beeston, near Nottingham.

Christine was inspired to join the Army after seeing its humanitarian side.

Christine was inspired to join the Army after seeing its humanitarian side.

She said: “I am really passionate about being Reserves Champion.

“It is a new role created by HR, allowing us to work together to raise awareness about being a reservist.

“It is also about encouraging people who are currently serving in the military, or have done previously, to consider a career with Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.”

Christine joined the Reserves in 2009 after a close encounter with forces overseas.

She said: “I worked with the Kenyan Red Cross in a humanitarian aid camp for two years after I qualified as a nurse and there were a lot of military personnel supporting our work. I had a chance to learn a bit about them and what they did.

“I came to live in the UK in 2003 and, when I saw an Army recruiting stand a few years later, I wanted to find out how I could wear the green uniform.”

She added: “I had to work hard to pass my recruit training and had a few difficulties with the fitness tests, but I overcame those challenges and would now recommend a career in the Reserve Forces to anyone.

“There are so many more opportunities than I could ever have imagined. It is a chance to learn new skills, have new experiences and make a difference to people’s lives.”

Christine’s latest role has seen her give a presentation to the trust’s board about her military experience and that of other employees.

She has also successfully gain the trust a bronze Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, and worked with trust managers to create a new scheme giving employees paid leave to complete military training commitments.

It is also helping adding a new dimension to her work with patients.

She said: “The GPs I work with often refer patients to me who have connections with the Armed Forces as they understand that I may be able to offer assistance to those who have specific issues and who they can contact for support and guidance.”