A NETWORK to help former veterans find work in the rural economy will launch at the Royal Agricultural University next month.

The Linked In group, Ruralink, has been set up by Fiona Galbraith, who lives in Swindon, to introduce employers to former members of the armed forces that might struggle to find a career after going back to civvy street.

Fiona, who served as an officer in the Intelligence Corps and remains a reservist, told the Adver: “Ex-military personnel are highly suited to a wide range of roles in the rural sector. This includes careers in agriculture, horticulture, animal care, arboriculture, game management, estate management and other land-based careers.

“Officers tend to be quite good managers which translates across industries.

“Those who have served are also used to working outside in all weathers, they will get on with it, whether it’s snow or sun.”

The group arranges meet-ups in Swindon to give veterans help and advice on finding a direction after army life.

“It’s where people can exchange views and offer support. A lot of people find it difficult to make that transition,” added Fiona, who completed a course in rural estate management at the university in Cirencester.

“Lots of peoples’ identity is tied up with being a member of the armed forces, who then find themselves grieving at leaving that life behind,” she explained.

“You don’t know what your job is out there. It takes a little bit of planning to find out where you fit into a new industry.

“The group is helping to create that informal opportunity to meet a real employer and vice versa.”

Rural employers and service leavers from all ranks are invited to the launch, which will take place at The Alliston Centre at the RAU’s campus in Cirencester on Thursday 7 February at 6.30pm.

Subsequent meetings will be on the second Thursday of each month, starting on March 14.

An exhibition by co-organiser Wendy Faux called When the Boots Fit will also open at the event to highlight the similarities in skills between a career in the rural sector and the military.