Paynesville's Polly Cooper is no stranger to helping people. The bubbly personal trainer helps her clients to lose weight, eat right and maintain a healthy everyday lifestyle.But now she's lending a hand in a decidedly different way. She has put on her Army Reserve uniform and is on a peace keeping mission in the Solomon Islands.
For the next few months Polly, 27, will be part of Operation Anode, the Australian Army's contribution to the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, RAMSI. Fifteen Pacific nations have sent police or soldiers, or both, at the invitation of the Solomon Islands government.
Now a Corporal, Polly is the Communications Supervisor for the Australian contingent. She is responsible for all facets of communications, including radios and computers, as well as providing guidance to the junior soldiers.
"I've been in the Army for 8 years and I'm so honoured to be representing my country overseas. I hope I can really make a difference to the lives of the locals" she said excitedly.
Prior to deploying to the Solomon Islands Polly spent two months undergoing rigorous training in Western Australia and Queensland. "I've really enjoyed the preparation, and the training was challenging but highly worthwhile," she said.
"I spent Christmas, New Year and my birthday in the Solomons and will be away for Easter as well," she said. "I miss my family, friends and fiancé, but I've made some great mates on the deployment and I was definitely in good company when I sat down to lunch on Christmas Day."
When Polly returns home in April she is looking forward to travelling to the United Kingdom to represent the Australia Defence Force in an international netball competition.