Published on: 4 December 2020

Kelly Bennett.jpgThe Lord Lieutenant has presented a royal accolade to nurse and army Major, Kelly Bennet for the exceptional service that she has shown to the army reserves.

Kelly, who is Clinical Site Manager at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust and has worked on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, received the Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate for Loyal and Meritorious Service. The award is presented to members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces for service that deserves high praise and commendation. 

Kelly serves as a Major with the Newcastle-based 201 Field Hospital, which provides clinical support to the British Army on operational tours in times of conflict, peacekeeping and humanitarian situations. She was presented with the award at a virtual ceremony by Susan Winfield, Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear.

Kelly was a newly-qualified nurse at the hospital when she began her military life 15 years ago. Since then, she has been deployed to Afghanistan twice and is now Officer Commanding B detachment, overseeing about 80 personnel. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly has worked on the NHS frontline coordinating patient admissions, checking COVID test results and managing overnight staffing for the Trust. 

She said: “I am proud to serve and am honoured to receive this award. Joining the Army Reserves has enriched my life in so many ways. I have gained confidence in my leadership abilities and I bring the Army’s ethos of teamwork to my job. 

“I enjoy the challenges of the Army Reserves, which gives me the confidence to meet the challenges faced in the NHS.”

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust is an Armed Forces-friendly employer and has a number of staff who serve as reservists. It was the first NHS employer in the region to achieve the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Gold Award - the highest badge of honour available to those that employ and support those who serve, as well as veterans, and their families. 

The Trust was among the first to sign-up to the national Step into Health initiative which provides an access route into employment and other career development opportunities within the NHS to members of the Armed Forces community. This year the Trust also won the 'Leading the way as an employer' category of the prestigious Step into Health Awards for its work in recruiting members of the Armed Forces community to the NHS.

Kath Griffin, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development and Executive Lead for its work with the Armed Forces, said: “This is a marvellous honour for Kelly we are extremely proud. Our aim is always to support staff who are members or who wish to join the reservists or cadet forces, ensuring they can take leave to train and supporting them during deployment.”