In September last year, Sennelager held its first community fair under the new British Army (Germany) flag. The event was designed by our AFF Germany co-ordinator, Lindsay McCran to highlight services and facilities for those of you remaining in Germany, as well as providing important info for newcomers.
Since then ‘the new Germany’ has gone from strength to strength. Lindsay spoke to Commanding Officer (GSU) Lt Col Danny Wild, who explains what’s been happening:
“It’s been a busy 12-months but we’ve established a firm base. Having all our housing right next to the barracks creates a strong, village atmosphere; staff can walk to work, children to school and nursery and we have our own
community centre right on the patch.”
Under one roof
One of the jewels in the crown is the newly established community hub, headed up by Unit Welfare Officer Tim Hopkins.
“Tim’s idea was to centralise all welfare elements under one roof and Brydon House is now proud home to Army Welfare Service (AWS), AFF, HIVE and the padre alongside the community welfare team,” says Lt Col Wild.
“It also has a learning centre, multi-activity room, a self-service library and internet access. This year has seen the provision of excellent contact/welfare accommodation, plus a three-bedroom furnished house on the patch – perfect for single soldiers and families with visiting relatives.
“There has been very good community support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; HIVE and AFF have kept
families informed on the ever-evolving issues, whilst AWS, alongside welfare team members, have led many activities as well as establishing a cinema and community garden,” he says.
“Things couldn’t get much better but that doesn’t mean that we stop trying to improve. My message to anyone here or those considering an assignment to Germany is that Sennelager is a lovely place to work, raise a family and embrace not just the delights of Germany but the broader culture of Europe on our doorstep.
“We’re part of the local community and are warmly embraced by our German neighbours,” he concludes.
Major Andy Bostock and his wife Gill moved to Sennelager last year. Andy says: “COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges to us all. It has been difficult for family and friends to visit but not impossible, and key family members have been able to balance various constraints. The situation has been very well managed in Germany
and has found us in a better position than we may have been if living in another part of the world. We’re blessed by the strong support network here. Following the drawdown, the pandemic has set conditions for an easier transition to the new Germany and has cushioned the impact associated with a much smaller military footprint.”
Attenborough nursery manager, Lynne Green re-opened the setting in September and the nursery has now found its feet in the grounds of Attenborough School. “Nursery children use the school facilities including the vast forest school area,” she says.
“With the nursery now opening for 45 weeks of the year, we can offer care for children aged three-to-five and are increasing our staff to support this. We look forward to welcoming new families as they arrive in Germany.”
Forces Families Jobs has become the ‘one stop shop’ for all Germany jobs as well as overseas training opportunities.
“Finding a job when I first arrived was hard; opportunities were sparse straight after drawdown so getting a role with AWS in March was a real high for me,” says Ailsa.
“When my daughter started Attenborough nursery we were worried about how she would react, being her first time away from us but the team have given her so much support and she has settled in so well; they helped her to develop and become more independent which is great to see.”
Ailsa is looking forward to the coming year.
“I hope there will be opportunities for more groups and clubs aimed at babies and young children. Our aim as a family is to make the most of this posting by getting out and exploring Germany and the neighbouring countries in our motorhome. BA(G) has a great friendly community atmosphere, which makes you feel welcome.”
“Although COVID-19 has required a conservative approach to many activities, I believe this is an exciting time for all families arriving in Germany,” confirms Lt Col Bob Carman, who commands CAST/CATT (G).
“Our training facilities remain first class and will be heavily utilised for the foreseeable future. This means that we need to fill dependant positions. I believe this step change in the importance of training activity will be positive for the whole community,”he adds.
“Although COVID-19 has required a conservative approach to many activities, I believe this is an exciting time for all families arriving in Germany.”
After three years with the US Army, Commander BA(G) Col Tim Hill is happy to be back on the patch: “Like other overseas locations, our next-door neighbours are a real mix of military, civil servants, contractors, teachers etc, which adds a fantastic perspective to all our lives,” he says.
“Despite the virus, it’s been a great first year and the lockdown has only served to bring the community closer together, but perhaps not literally!
“Our close-knit community is thriving; the estate is filling up and infrastructure improvements are slowly but surely
beginning to reappear. Each day I am reminded that not only are we engaged in an exciting project for British Army
training, but our very location in the heart of mainland Europe provides so many exciting opportunities for our visiting exercising troops and our own families.”