Once in a lifetime opportunities every time the phone rings

Blog post by Ben Lolley

Friday 4 May 2018

If you're anything like me then you will cringe every time you read that headline - it's cheesy as sin, I know, but it's not without substance...

My name is Ben Lolley. I’m 28 years old, I’m married, and I like to think that I mostly live a normal life. I say mostly for a reason; if I look at an average year for 75% of it I live the standard day to day – I wake up with my wife, I feed the dog, I go to work, I come home, I exercise – pretty routine. It’s the 25%, however, that I think you’ll be interested in.

During the 25% I stop being Ben, a process manager that works for the civil service, and I become Lieutenant Lolley – a Royal Navy Media Operations Specialist ready to deploy to anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice in defence of the United Kingdom.

In January of this year I did just that; I paused my Civilian job, I said goodbye to my family and I set sail on HMS Duncan, the Royal Navy’s newest Destroyer, and arguably one of the most capable warships in the world.

My role was a simple but exciting one – a job known as ‘Media Escorting’. It’s the bread and butter of a Media Operations Specialist; my task was to look after a documentary team who were filming a 4 part series about the Navy on Operations. I was there to keep the Captain and her command team appraised of the documentary team’s requests, whilst also advising the team on elements of the ship’s programme that I felt would be of interest to them or would make for good footage. Above that, and without a doubt most importantly, I was there for safety; a warship can be a dangerous place for those not in the know!

During a deployment (or a mobilisation in Reserve speak) you immerse yourself in a ship’s way of life. You become one of the company – you eat, sleep and socialise with the 200+ strong crew that you’ve joined. They become your family, your friends, but perhaps most importantly your eyes and ears. As a communicator you want to be in the middle of anything that’s happening, that desire/need is what drives perhaps the most unique element of being a Media Specialist; the access you get is unreal – far over and above that of your average sailor! One minute I could be in the bowels of the ship crawling over a gas turbine, next minute I’m stood next to the captain on the bridge as she drove the ship through an air defence scenario. The variety is incredible, everywhere you turn there’s another story.

On top of the great access and the camaraderie, an obvious benefit of being on a ship is the travel. Whilst the beast from the east was gripping the UK I was spending time in Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey… Don’t get me wrong there was work to do whilst in port, but there’s more than ample opportunity to see the world and experience the unique places the Royal Navy can take you.

Sounds like something you’d like to do? The Media Operations Specialisation is currently recruiting enthusiastic, committed and driven individuals to join them to tell the stories of the Royal Navy on exercises and operations around the world. For more information visit: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/careers/royalnavalreserves or email ian.pratt312@mod.gov.uk.