VOLUNTEERS WEEK 1-7 June 2022
The Queen may be celebrating her Platinum Jubilee this weekend but she is also a huge Champion of everyone who volunteers for Charities and Organisations. She and the rest of the Royal Family regularly hold receptions and events to thank and celebrate those who are selflessly committed to volunteering.
Here in Dorset Army Cadet Force we simply could not operate without the support of our volunteers and we would like to introduce some of them to you over the next couple of days. We would also like to say a huge thank you to each and every one of our Adult Volunteers!
PI OWENS - BOVINGTON
I first enquired about volunteering in January this year, having stumbled on a reference to the ACF online and having seen cadets locally doing DofE training and helping out at the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. Having had very fond memories of my own time as a cadet, it subsequently spurred me on to join the Officer Training Corps at university too, where I was eventually commissioned. As a young officer, I then transferred to a specialist unit in the Royal Engineers reserves after starting work as a management trainee for a bank. However, the demands of my job and the (very active) unit I’d joined sadly proved incompatible, so with great regret I decided I had to leave the reserves to focus fully on my career.
I was lucky enough to be able to retire early three years ago at age 55, after a varied career that also included senior roles in local government & property management. Initially, I spent most of my newly found free-time supporting family, volunteering for local animal rescue charity and indulging my passions for running, cycling, walking and mountaineering – COVID restrictions permitting! However, I felt ready for a more challenging role and, after being pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t actually too old to join the ACF as a volunteer (!), I duly applied in January of this year. I was then invited to meet a Company Commander in February, then to attend the Familiarisation Weekend in March, when I was sworn in as a CFAV.
Things have moved pretty quickly since then, and I obtained my DBS check and attended Safeguarding training to enable me to start parading twice weekly since late April. I now have my uniform too and have started helping to train the cadets, as well as attending monthly training myself – for example, this weekend to be skilled up in using the online systems, delivering basic navigation lessons and in use of air rifles.Although neither are necessary for any volunteer, given that I have a copious amount of free time as a retiree and some useful previous experience, I also hope to attend both the annual camp this summer and the Advanced Induction Course in the autumn, with a view to formally qualifying then as a Sergeant Instructor. The latter would be pretty quick compared to the norm, but it won’t be a problem if I have to attend a later course instead.
All being well, I also plan to assist with DofE training and to hopefully squeeze in a Mountain Leader assessment course later this year / early 2023.I am really enjoying my time with the ACF so far – despite being out of uniform for 35 years (!), I have realised that a lot of my old experience is actually still relevant; as are many of the wider skills and knowledge I developed through my hobbies, interests and work too.
As part of the CFAV team, I hope to actively help the cadets enjoy their time in the ACF as much as I did and to see them grow and develop in confidence and ability too, which is what I see it all being about ultimately.