British forces overseas posting: Ayios Nikolaos, Cyprus
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Ayios Nikolaos (Ay Nik) is about 20 minutes’ drive from Dhekelia Garrison.
The station is located in the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA) on the main road to Famagusta.
Our location places us just 20 to 30 minutes drive from Protaras and Ayia Napa, two of the island’s most renowned night life and tourist areas. The station is home to the majority of Joint Service Signal Unit (JSSU) Cyprus (Cyp) and its command.
All new arrivals receive a briefing about the station. UK dependents and UK based civilians must also attend the new arrival brief, which is held at the Forum. It is compulsory for you and your spouse to attend this brief at the earliest opportunity.
Joint Service Signal Unit Cyprus
The JSSU (Cyp) was formed in 2003 as a result of the amalgamation of JSSU (Ayios Nikolaos) and elements of 12 Signal Unit RAF. As part of the Joint Service Signal Organisation, the JSSU is a static communications organisation maintaining secure links from Cyprus to the rest of the world.
It is a fully integrated, proactive and responsive JSSU, making a key contribution to defence. The vast majority of the unit’s personnel live and work in Ay Nik in the ESBA, however the unit also has large detachments at Akrotiri and Episkopi in the Western Sovereign Base Area and at the Retained Site in Troodos.
The JSSU (Cyp) is commanded by a Royal Signals Lieutenant Colonel but officers from all three services make up the unit’s hierarchy to ensure tri service representation. Due to the range of complex communications equipment used it also employs a large number of MOD civil servants and contractors as well as locally employed civilians.
The unit consists of 3 Squadrons. 1 Squadron is responsible for conducting operations, 2 Squadron for operational engineering support and Headquarters Squadron for defence, infrastructure and logistic support.
The unit has Royal Signals personnel employed variously in the command and training role or as special operators, technicians, drivers and suppliers, and Royal Logistic Corps personnel employed as chefs, drivers and suppliers. Other Army Corps such as the Royal Engineers, Intelligence Corps and Adjutant General’s Corps are also employed at JSSU (Cyp). Specialist operators and technicians from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force work alongside the Army Corps personnel as well as a number of civilian personnel based at JSSU.
Accommodation at Ayios Nikolaos
Ay Nik Station has three estates:
- Seaforth Estate
- Cape Estate
- Alexander Court
Two of the estates comprise of modern semi detached houses built in 1995, and have central heating installed with solar panels for heating water. The other estate comprises of older houses which have immersion heated water and portable gas heaters.
Both the Seaforth and Cape Estates are located on the station, and Alexander Court is located in the village no more than a mile from station.
Three large barrack blocks provide single accommodation with shared ablutions.
Prior to arrival your room or quarter will have been marched in for you. For those in quarters a ‘get you in pack’ with bedding, cookware and other necessities will be provided until your household items arrive on the island.
Your sponsor will assist with your initial settlement into Ay Nik and help with any questions and paperwork.
Personnel posted to JSSU but detached to Akrotiri, Episkopi and Troodos will reside in accommodation on their detached units.
Ayios Nikolaos medical facilities
Medical care in the ESBA is provided via the Medical Reception Station Dhekelia and the Medical Centre Ay Nik.
Troodos has only a duty medic for routine ailments; personnel will have to travel to Episkopi for more serious medical problems.
Service personnel are automatically registered for treatment upon posting to Cyprus. UK based civilians and all dependents need to register for treatment as soon as possible after arrival. Registration forms are available during normal working hours from the MRS reception.
All service personnel, UK based civilians and their dependents under the age of 26 (or in full time education) are entitled to primary health care. Civilian visitors including non dependent family are not entitled to treatment but MRS Dhekelia does not process insurance claims. EHIC are not valid inside the ESBA.
The service hospital is The Princess Mary’s Hospital, RAF Akrotiri. The hospital is manned by specialists and is also visited by specialist consultants from the UK. Travelling time to TPMH is about 2 hrs from Ay Nik.
A comprehensive range of facilities are available at MRS Dhekelia including:
- smoking cessation
- smear clinic
- asthma clinic
- community psychiatric nurse
- minor operations clinic
- weight management clinic
- outpatients clinics
- obstetrics and gynaecology
The Joint Service Health Unit (JSHU) is responsible for ensuring the maintenance of environmental and occupational health standards and will check working areas and accommodation provided for all units and establishments. As part of the service provided JSHU will provide a pest control service to married quarters.
Schools and education
Ayios Nikolaos Primary School
Ay Nik has its own infant and primary school located on the Seaforth Estate.
King Richard Secondary School
The King Richard Secondary School (KRS) is located at Dhekelia and serves the whole of the ESBA, for children between 11 and 18 years.
UK qualified teachers who are recruited by the Service Children’s Education Authority (SCEA) staff all schools. And a UK curriculum is taught so SATs and GCSEs still take place for children of the relevant age groups. Further education also takes place on the island and the opportunity for teenagers to do A Levels is also available.
School finishes around lunchtime but with a very early start. This is due to the hot weather experienced throughout the summer.
Adult education is also available. Ayos Nikolaos has its own education centre for both service personnel and their dependents to use. The centre runs a variety of local courses and liaises with Dhekelia where you can also take part in courses.
It’s also very common for personnel to start or continue Open University courses in Cyprus and the Education Centre can help with you with this.
Amenities at Ayios Nikolaos
Within the station boundary we have the Forum community centre inside which you will find:
- HIVE (information centre)
- Unit well-being office
- families clerk
- pass office
- Post Office
- padre’s office
- estate warden/faults reporting office
- exchange store
- NAAFI Financial (including Abbey National Banking)
- Airwaves Rep in the HIVE
- AFF Rep in the HIVE
- Legal Aid clinic
- RugRats (parents and tots)
- CAMEO (come and meet everyone)
- toilets and baby changing facilities
Everyone has access to:
- gun club
- games club
- 2 banks
- saddle club
- education centre
- golf club
- rugby club
- various messes
- swimming pool
- kart club
- theatre club
- thrift shop
- Ay Nik Tavern (ANT)
- ceramics club
- youth club
- camera club
NAAFI offers a wide range of services in Cyprus. In Dhekelia and Ay Nik there is a main shopping centre with a grocery hall, and a central services shop for gifts and durables. Dhekelia also sells sports clothing.
You will be issued with a ration card to enable you to purchase cigarettes and spirits and a ‘yellow card’ to enable you to purchase other duty free goods in the NAAFI.
There is a local supermarket which is 5 minutes’ drive from the station. Local towns offer a wide range of shops and supermarkets all within a short car drive.
There are UK stores here such as Marks & Spencers, Body Shop, Next, Mothercare, Clarks, Dorothy Perkins and Evans, but clothes are slightly marked up in price.
Material is cheap to buy here so if you have a sewing machine bring it with you along with patterns. The tailors here are good and reasonably priced and will often make an outfit for you from a sketch or picture.
Known as the MMG (Mission to Military Garrisons) they sell British newspapers (one day behind), cards, gifts and a limited range of magazines and books. They also provide a book and magazine ordering service but it would be advisable to subscribe to your favourite magazine before arriving in Cyprus.
Recreation at Ayios Nikolaos
- the Karting Club has both an outdoor and indoor circuit and run on a Wednesday and Sunday
- the station has a 9 hole golf course and the Golf Club, runs weekly and monthly competitions throughout the year
- Paintball Club runs private and public events periodically over the year on station
- Ay Nik Media Ops team provides coverage of all unit events and delivers a dedicated service on the TV Network on station
- the Cycle Club has its own workshop and shop on station and compete in a variety of cycling events on the island all year round
- Bondu Rat’s Motorcycle Club shares space with the cycle club and go out for weekly rides on some of Cyprus’ best roads
- the Saddle Club is located on station and is open for both adults and children to use, for learning or just ride out’s. The club also participates in island wide competitions
- the unit has a JSSU Football Team and several small teams that compete in the ‘Minor Unit’s Competition’, also a youth football programme is run on a weekly basis for children of all ages
- Ay Nik Stags RFC. The Rugby Team have a clubhouse and meet regularly to compete with other military and civilian teams around the island. The club also runs youth rugby during certain times of the year
- Scouts and Guides. The station has a Scout Group and Rainbows and Brownies, for boys and girls to participate in on a weekly basis. Guide’s is also run at Dhekelia
- the Youth Club is open to kids and teens up to 16, open weekly
- JSSU has a cross country running team that competes in the island wide competition throughout the year
- JSSU has a orienteering team that compete in the island wide competition throughout the year
- the Boxing Club runs weekly for both kids and adults, to train and compete
- the Forum houses all family, welfare and HIVE facilities on station, and a weekly CAMEO (Come And Meet Every One) is run in the forum on Thursday mornings for all station occupants
- the station has a small library available to be used by all station occupants
- the station has a thrift shop, PRI shop, DVD rental store, bakery, clothes/drycleaner’s store, ERMES (NAAFI), newsagent, kebab/chip shop and a café
- the cinema is open 2 to 3 times a week
- the station has a gym, squash courts, swimming pool, volleyball court, netball courts, football pitches (grass and astroturf), rugby pitches and a 400 metre running track
- Snug Tavern, the Ay Nik Tavern (ANT) is the main station bar open most of the week and serves food. It is a family orientated venue with a children’s play area and events for all ages are run their throughout the year
- Rugby Club. The clubhouse has a bar and is open for spectators on match days.
- The Red Mist. The Motorcycle Club bar, open to everyone on Friday evenings
- the crèche looks after toddlers up to 3 years old on weekday mornings.
- ‘Rugrat’s’ meet weekly, it’s a chance for parents to meet and socialise while the little ones do the same