Director, Soldier, Athlete and Friend
When the drain clogs or something needs repair, every resident of United Methodist Communities at Collingswood knows Ian Barnett, building services director, and his department will come to the rescue. Many residents consider him more altruistic superhero than everyday associate.
Perhaps a paradoxical quid pro quo, Ian views the residents as heroes. He talks to Dorothy, a fellow native of the United Kingdom (UK) and makes her cups of English tea whenever the opportunity arises. Another standout, Ruth, a native of Germany, relishes opportunities to converse in German with Ian, who voluntarily served full-time in the British Army for almost 24 years. He learned to speak the language while stationed in Germany.
Similarly, Art, a World War II veteran who traveled extensively during his service, frequently compares notes with Ian about their military experiences in various worldwide locations. “Regardless of the assignments or location, my fellow soldiers and I felt we were doing the right thing,” reflected Ian.
Deployed during Operation Granby (known as Desert Storm in the US) with the 4th Armored Brigade, Ian completed a six-month stint in the Falkland Islands and numerous tours of Bosnia as part of the Stabilization Force (SFOR). Ian also served in the UK, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
Born in Chorley and educated in Leyland, Lancashire, England, Ian left school after graduation at age 16. He joined the Army Apprentice College and completed one year of basic training as a Junior Leader. At 17, he joined the Regular Army and furthered his education.
Learned in the military, his “don’t give up, just keep at it” approach to life has served him well as a soldier, civilian and athlete. From 1996 to 2010, Ian was part of the British Bobsleigh Team competing on the European Cup circuit and practicing on their home track in Lillehammer, Norway.
The team was a mix of military and civilians and at the end of the season, the Army have the Army Championships with the top four teams going on to represent the Army competing at the Inter-Services championships against the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force racing competitively over two days. Ian won the Army championships four times and was part of the winning Army team at least seven times.
During his Army career, Ian received numerous medals including the NATO Meritorious Service Medal. As head of transport and logistics for a NATO communications unit, Ian managed lots of moving pieces including soldiers, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, equipment, and buildings, which naturally led to a second career in facilities management.
Honorably discharged in 2011 with exemplary military conduct after completing almost 24 years, he enjoyed some down time. He then began his second career working in Sodexo’s Healthcare Division, and for the last five years, in the Senior Living Division.
Although Ian came to Collingswood on a temporary assignment, he liked it so much, he decided to apply, got the job, and stayed. He comments, “Collingswood residents are absolutely fantastic characters. It has great management and everyone is so friendly.”
By Janet M. Carrato, Communications and Public Relations Director.