A SWINDON-BASED specialist security business scooped a major national award for sending hundreds of military veterans to help out at coronavirus test centres across the UK.

SSGC teamed up with the Yorkshire Regiment Association to rapidly deploy former service personnel to help marshal queues at walk-in and drive-through test centres during the pandemic.

The company won the Security Partnering Initiative of the Year award for its work with Serco, one of the companies managing centres on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Plus, the business was shortlisted for Lockdown Hero of the Year and Security Guarding Company of the Year at the prestigious Fire and Security Excellence Awards 2020.

The awards, sponsored by IFSEC and Firex, took place virtually after the glittering gala dinner in London had to be cancelled in line with coronavirus restrictions.

These award nominations recognise SSGC's efforts to recruit and deploy more than 4,000 staff in a matter of weeks to help marshal the testing centres as a supplier to Serco.

Managing director David Stubbs, himself a former military police officer, answered the government's call after his company signed the Armed Forces Covenant, an undertaking to support the welfare and wellbeing of uniformed personnel who have served their country.

He said: “This has been an incredible journey for us. At the beginning of the year, we were deploying personnel who were working around 54,000 hours per month and now we are scheduling 700,000-plus hours per month as a result of the pandemic.

“The award is a recognition of the level of work and commitment which has gone into delivering on this contract in the national interest and is tribute to the former veterans who have been on this journey with us.”

Major Pat Ralph, chairman of the Yorkshire Regiment Association, said: “Our call to arms went out across the Yorkshire Regiments.

“The response was overwhelming. For our veterans, this is an opportunity to give something back to their communities, to get involved with like-minded people and, for many, new qualifications are also in the offing.”

Director of Health and Justice and Armed Forces Kate Davies said: “It’s fantastic that veterans are stepping up to support the country once again in the fight against Covid-19.

“We at NHS England and NHS Improvement are hugely grateful to them for providing their expertise and skillset at testing centres across England in this time of need.”

Jonathan Brasher OBE, operations director for the Serco-managed testing centres, said: “Serco has more than 50 years of proud history working with the armed forces in the UK and elsewhere.

“When Serco was asked by the DHSC to manage a number of the Covid-19 drive-through testing centres, we reached out to organisations such as SSGC to support us.

“We are delighted this resulted in so many veterans working at the centres and, once again, making a valuable effort to the national effort, this time to tackle Covid-19.”