A Royal Navy Reservist has put his university studies on hold to help with the fight against COVID.
Sub Lieutenant Ben Peck had been studying towards a degree in Navigation and Maritime Science at Plymouth University.
Ben's goal is to graduate from university and qualify as a Merchant Navy Deck Officer, but like many students across the UK, the pandemic has changed his university life completely.
The Sub Lieutenant has just completed four months working in the Joint Military Command for the South East (JMC SE) in Aldershot as an operational planner.
Explaining his role, Ben said: "Working within an Army headquarters and understanding how all the military branches come together has been an amazing first mobilisation, and I have constantly felt like I'm making a difference to the current situation.
"Being part of the team who planned the testing of drivers and hauliers on Christmas Eve was a particular highlight."
Ben missed Christmas with his family but never had any doubts about being involved with the COVID effort over the festive period.
"Working over Christmas for the first time ever was a challenge, but there was such a sense of urgency for the cause, there's never a doubt about the work we had to do," he said.
"Learning how the military plans operations in a Staff Officer environment was new to me but has given me such a new perception of organisation and management.
"Although I had to learn the mechanics of a military HQ very quickly, looking back I'm very proud to have contributed towards the fight against COVID-19, including NHS support and vaccination set-up as well as preparations for the Brexit transition."
Ben's dad, Mr Adrian Peck, took to social media in praise of his son and those like him, announcing he has had a "Proud parent moment".
"My son is one of those Naval reservists," he said. "He put his university course on hold for a year so he could work full-time with the organisation and implementation of the testing and vaccine stations in the south-east of the country.
"These guys are working just as hard as the NHS, seven days a week for months on end to protect the population of this country. They all deserve a medal."
In Ben's reservist role he works in the Mine Warfare branch and will be mobilising for a second time this year and joining an Offshore Patrol Vessel as a Tactical Fisheries Officer under the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
This mobilisation will count towards his qualifying sea time to become a Merchant Navy Deck Officer.
Cover Image: Royal Navy