Reserve Ryan become ‘fastest ever’ to qualify – despite Covid


He began his application to join the Army reserves as the nation was on the brink of its first Covid-19 lockdown.

Now, less than a year later, McDonald’s worker Ryan Shippey of Barnsley is celebrating after completing back-to-back training that means he is today one of the Yorkshire Regiment’s most newly fully-qualified infanteers.

Becoming a reserve

“I couldn’t be happier with how it’s all gone,” said Ryan, aged 31, who is pictured right with Captain Mally Birkett looking on.

“The support and encouragement I’ve had has been brilliant. Things have been harder because of the pandemic but they’ve done everything possible to get me onto all my courses as quickly as they could.”

Ryan is based at 4 YORKS – the Yorkshire Regiment’s reserve battalion – at Fontenay Barracks, Barnsley, where Captain Birkett said he had never seen a reserve soldier pass through the full training programme as quickly before.

“Ryan signed up with us in September after passing the Army’s selection and I can honestly say the speed with which he has completed all his training to become a full-qualified infantry soldier is unprecedented,” he said.

Reserve training

“Usually it takes our reservists eighteen months to get through all the training courses they need to complete. But Ryan’s done it all in four months – which is even more incredible because it’s all happened against the backdrop of a pandemic.

“It’s a real testament to his enthusiasm and determination as well as the support of his employers who have shown him a lot of flexibility and support throughout. It really shows just what is possible.”

Reserve soldiers

Reserve soldiers combine a full military careers with lives and jobs in civvy street.

Ryan is originally from Bridlington and studied towards a degree in ancient history at Cardiff University. As well as working as a crew member in McDonalds, he is also studying for accountancy qualifications through distanced learning.

He decided to join the Army Reserve after seeing an advert on YouTube. He said:

“I didn’t know that much about the Reserves but I wanted to be part of something important and liked the idea of being active and having new opportunities.

“For me the structure and standards of being in the Army were a big attraction. I like the fact that it gives you a framework to develop yourself and progress.”

Timeline of Ryan’s success:

February 2020 – Ryan applies to the Army to join the Reserves

September 2020 – Ryan signs up to 4 YORKS after passing Army selection

October 2020 – Completes week-long Alpha course providing a background to life in the Army

November 2020 – Completes fortnight-long Bravo course which means he can be deployed on operations

November 2020 to January 2021 – Completes unit training and personal development.

January 2021 to February 2021 – Completes arduous, three-week Combat Infantryman’s Course to become fully-qualified.

Reserve Forces