A career change from the health field to the Army has taken Lieutenant Hannah Garside from the UK to a multinational exercise in Papua New Guinea.
CAPTION: British Army Lieutenant Hannah Garside on-site during Exercise Puk Puk at Goldie River Training Depot in Papua New Guinea. Story by Major Jesse Robilliard. Photo by Sergeant Nunu Campos.
It’s a change Lieutenant Garside, who hails from Saddleworth near Manchester, is glad she made.
“In 2019, I decided to make the jump to the Army; admittedly a massive career change,” she said.
“I was just looking for something different to get to see the world while being active and I am really glad I made that decision.”
Lieutenant Garside is the contingent commander for the UK contribution to Exercise Puk Puk.
Engineers from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), Australian Army and British Army are working together to increase bonds, build relationships and develop trade skills while improving existing infrastructure at the PNGDF Goldie River Training Depot near Port Moresby.
“All the UK royal engineers are really enjoying getting stuck in practising their trades, which they don’t get a huge opportunity to practise back in the UK,” Lieutenant Garside said.
“They’re really enjoying integrating and experiencing the culture, and getting to know the soldiers as well.”
The scope of works for this year’s exercise includes the construction of a new classroom at the field engineer wing, construction of an inert demolition demonstration range, and refurbishment of a guardhouse.
“My troop are helping to renovate the guardhouse. They are cleaning it, getting it ready for painting,” Lieutenant Garside said.
“We are installing fans and lights, new toilets and shower facilities.”
Leaving behind a job as a cardiac physiologist at Birmingham hospital for a career as an Army engineer might sound like a radical change on the surface. However, the former Harborne hockey club player said there were some similarities.
“I guess they are similar in a way – you follow processes, there is a bit of maths involved, I’m quite process- and number-minded,” Lieutenant Garside said.
Exercise Puk Puk has been an enduring commitment from Australia to PNG since the early 2000s and the British Army has contributed in previous years.
“We’re working well as a team. The troops are working really well together, learning a lot from each other, comparing different ways that they do things,” Lieutenant Garside added.
“We hope to build relationships with the ADF and PNGDF to continue our connection to Exercise Puk Puk.”