We spoke to Cadet L/Cpl Tara Francis from Snodland Detachment and her father who was a former cadet there too.
My name is Nick Francis, Taz’s father. I was formally a Cadet Sergeant with 4th Queens and an Adult Instructor with D Company. I sadly resigned in 2009 to pursue my current career as a paramedic but still miss the ACF very much.
In 2012 Taz was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. We were advised that this would adversely affect her problem solving and social skills. This became very apparent when she started secondary school. We had a number of meetings regarding her lack of interaction with teachers and other students during lessons as well as some very poor school reports.
Taz had previously been a Brownie and a Girl Guide and had done well in both. My memories of being a cadet inspired me to encourage her to join, she was initially very reluctant but agreed to join my old detachment at Snodland.
In her five years with cadets she has achieved a complete 180* turnaround and is a very different person. She is far more confident in herself and her abilities at home, school and cadets (although she is still not overly keen on sleeping out). Her school reports have shown a massive improvement and her teachers have told us what a joy she’s been to teach for the last two years and to keep doing what she’s doing.
"I like shooting, skill at arms and drill because both subjects give me a focus. I also like first aid because its good to know I can help people in an emergency.
Being in the ACF has helped me to overcome the challenges of secondary school, having learning difficulties and having lots of different teachers.
My mum and dad have both said how much more outgoing and confident I have become".