An NHS community services provider based in Epsom has been honoured with the bronze award from the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

The ERS, which encourages employers to support the Ministry of Defence, comprises bronze, silver and gold awards for employer organisations.

CSH Surrey had to meet certain requirements which include a pledge to support the armed forces and demonstrate that it’s “armed forces-friendly”, among other things.

Samantha Stevens has been at CSH Surrey for 11 years and is currently an executive business manager.

She joined the RAF Reserves as a motor transport driver but it’s something she would’ve only been able to do if she had been granted time off.

Samantha said: “I had wanted to do something a bit different ort quite a while but it’s hard trying to achieve this alongside a full-time job.

“I attended an information day for the RAF Reserves after hearing an advert on the radio. The first barrier I had to overcome was being able to commit to the minimum 27 training days a year.

“Some of these would be weekends but some had to be during the week.

“Using annual leave was an option but, with a family, I couldn’t use all of them for it. Fortunately, CSH has an Armed Forces Policy which allows employees special paid leave.

“This allowed me to pursue my application knowing I had the support from my employer. Since then, CSH has been very supportive of my training requirements.”

Samantha adds that she has done things she “never dreamed” of doing with some “amazing people who I would have never met otherwise”.

This includes off-road driving competitions in Scotland, driving in convoy over to the Netherlands and back, and skiing with the RAF in Bavaria in Germany.

She most recently served in the Middle East on a three-month deployment.

Rhona Mason, director of HR and communication at CSH Surrey, said: “I am delighted that we have achieved this recognition for CSH’s support of our armed forces.

“As can be seen from Samantha’s example, there are significant benefits for us as an employer with the additional skills and confidence she has developed through the Reservists.

“We have already started the application for the silver award and hope to achieve this in the coming months.”