Petra Swift (Chief Financial Officer), wife of the recently departed Commander of 20th Armoured Brigade, has made an outstanding contribution to the welfare of Paderborn Garrison over the last two years. In addition to leading SSAFA fundraising efforts, she has added tremendous value to the wives’ networks as well as managing a young family. The Garrison’s families have been under added strain as the troops have been away for long periods on overseas exercises, mission-specific training in the UK and now many are in Afghanistan. Additionally there was the added uncertainty of two tranches of redundancy and the prospect of re-basing to the UK. Her role has been all the more critical as the Garrison and Station Commanders are both unaccompanied, as are four of the seven commanding officers. Within two weeks of arrival she hosted a drinks party for 200 volunteers from across the Garrison. Since then, the tempo of her engagement has, if anything, increased, and she has sustained it despite her husband being away for around 20 weeks each year. On arrival she planned and led the SSAFA Big Brew. Harnessing the goodwill of the Garrison’s units, she raised over €30,000 each year for SSAFA. She chaired the local committee that has carefully dispersed these monies for the welfare of the Garrison’s soldiers. Without a Treasurer or Publicity Officer she has to take a very hands-on approach. Quite simply, without Petra, there would have been no SSAFA in Paderborn.
An active member of various groups of officers’ wives, she organised countless farewells, ran a successful knitting group, was a member of a book club and much more. Through these opportunities she supported and counselled stressed wives; she was able to pick up on some of the issues that were troubling the community and explain some of the policies enacted by the chain of command. Aware that 5 RIFLES’s chain of command was almost entirely unaccompanied, she arranged to be invited to the Wives’ Club Party, integrated and became a welcome and regular guest.
Petra has selflessly given her time, energy and money to improving the welfare of the Garrison. For these reasons, Mrs Petra Swift is awarded a Prince Michael of Kent Award 2014.