A SOLDIER from Blackburn has spoken of his role working at a mobile coronavirus testing unit.

Gunner Ben Duxbury has gone from training straight into the Army’s response to Covid-19.

The 29-year-old is part of a Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) deployed in the West Midlands, along with Second Lieutenant Connor McLelland.

Troops hand out self-test kits to people showing symptoms and collect them at MTU sites across the UK on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.

The two soldiers belong to 47th Regiment Royal Artillery, one of the first units to deploy MTU personnel who have had to leave training early due to Operation Rescript, the name of the military contribution to the cross-government response to the pandemic.

The troops were on MTU duties at the West Midlands Safari Park, Bewdley, Worcestershire on Friday, June 12.

Gunner Duxbury, who went to St Oswald’s Primary School and Blakewater College in Blackburn, joined the Army in June 2019. 

He had his Phase 2 training cut short by three weeks due to Op Rescript and quickly trained as a MTU team member before being deployed. He was in the last ‘lockdown’ Phase 2 training intake.

He said:”This is proving to be a massive opportunity for me to see how the Army deals with a major operation and to show what I can do. 

“At first I was a bit worried but the PPE (personal protective equipment)we get, and the strict procedures we follow, made me feel safe. 

“The best thing about being on an MTU is being supported by the public. 
"Just a little thank you makes me and the other soldiers feel good.”

People with Covid-19 symptoms are advised go online and book a test — it is not painful and there is plenty of capacity to meet needs. 

Anyone in England is eligible and, if the result is positive, they will hear from NHS Test and Trace who will explain what steps to take.

Each Mobile Testing Unit consists of twelve soldiers, operating from a purpose-designed van.

The units can be set up in 20 minutes and are capable of conducting hundreds of coronavirus tests per day.

47th Regiment Royal Artillery is the only Regiment in the British Army that operates Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).