Miles aids hurricane-hit British Virgin Islands

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Former sapper Miles Falkingham (GSAL 09) has joined a second wave of volunteers in the British Virgin Islands to help in the relief effort following the recent hurricanes.

Just five days after leaving the 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, Miles flew out of Brize Norton with Team Rubicon UK which deploys emergency response teams of military veterans and first responders to disaster areas.

Miles is now working alongside other relief agencies, local authorities and residents to storm-proof shelters for the islanders as well as securing debris, clearing roads and assessing schools which have been badly damaged.

He said: “I want to use my skills and experience now to help others. I have a certain skillset which can help communities on the ground, so this work with Team Rubicon UK is a really worthwhile use of my time and effort.”

The British Virgin Islands took the full force of Hurricane Irma, followed by the heavy rains and gales of Hurricane Maria two weeks later, adding to the misery of the islanders.

Speaking from the region, Miles said that the infrastructure was still heavily damaged; however aid is reaching the remote villages he has visited. Team Rubicon is taking the lead on getting schools in the region up and running again and Miles is helping to convert a warehouse to enable 700 students to sit their exams.

During his time with the Royal Engineers, Miles worked in community development and peacekeeping roles in various countries. Now, he has left the army to pursue a career in the humanitarian sector while also studying part-time for an MSc in disaster management.

No stranger to volunteering, Miles has volunteered with the United Nations as well as offering his time to his old school.  Every year he has given up a week of his army leave to return to The Grammar School at Leeds for their annual scout camp. As an explorer leader with the Scouts, he also assists the 10th North Leeds Scout Group, teaching navigation and survival skills, and focusing on youth development.

One of his former teachers, Anne Williams, said: “Miles is an inspiration to us all. He is very tough and extremely kind and we are so proud of what he is doing.”

Visit Team Rubicon UK to donate to the emergency appeal for the Caribbean relief effort.

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