Leuchars-based TA regiment ‘Banks’ on new colonel r

Tony Banks on exercise in Cyprus.
Tony Banks on exercise in Cyprus.
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Falklands veteran Tony Banks, owner and founder of Scottish care provider Balhousie Care Group, has been appointed Honorary Colonel of the Territorial Army’s 71 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers).

The regiment, headquartered at RAF Leuchars, is based across Scotland, with other TA Centres in Elgin, Kirkwall, Paisley and Cumbernauld.

As the only Royal Engineer unit in Scotland, the regiment’s role is to provide military engineering support to both regular engineer units Army wide, including in Afghanistan, and the TA’s Scottish units. Like Tony, several members of the regiment have seen active service.

Tony was chosen for the post because of his own military background, business experience and philanthropic work, which includes supporting Combat Stress, a charity which helps ex-servicemen and women affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.

His role as honorary colonel will see him acting as an ambassador for the TA, building links with businesses and the community and offering professional advice on issues such as recruitment.

As the modern British Army’s needs change, the support and demands on the business community and wider community will increase.

Tony sees an important part of his role as helping with this, and one of his first assignments saw him joining members of the regiment on a training camp in Cyprus recently.

The post of honorary colonel is usually held for six years and is accompanied by an official invitation from Her Majesty The Queen. Tony joins other prominent figures such as Lorraine Kelly, who is honorary colonel of the Black Watch battalion’s Army Cadet Force (ACF).

Captain James Bryce, adjutant of 71 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers), said Tony was an obvious choice.

“His high profile, business links and philanthropic work mean he is in an ideal position to act as a positive ambassador for us, as the only Royal Engineer unit in Scotland.

“We have over 400 people in the Regiment; a mix of regular and reserve Army personnel, who come from all walks of life – bus drivers, chartered surveyors, civil servants – and each Sapper signs up to a minimum of 27 days training per year. Part of Tony’s role will be to provide continuity and the legacy knowledge required at a time of great change in the TA.

“Our main role is in Afghanistan, reinforcing the regular army and maintaining combat engineering capability, but other responsibilities this year include deployments to Cyprus, Kenya, the USA and supporting Op Olympics in London.’’

Tony signed up for the Territorial Army Parachute Regiment and then joined 2 Para, which saw him being deployed to the Falklands 30 years ago.

His first book, Storming the Falklands, was released in March and details his personal journey as one of the first to fight on the Falklands Islands and how the trauma of war affected him.