From Kent ACF to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

5 August 2020

Olivia Irwin formerly of Tonbridge Detachment

(Picture from annual camp at Okehampton in 2013...pre MTP)

I wanted to get back in touch with Kent ACF to provide a testimonial to the positive effects being in the organisation had on on my life. I am currently nearing the end of Junior Term at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. I’m 22 now, so I was in the ACF a good while back, but recently I’ve done a great deal of reflecting on how it has helped me out over the years.

I joined Tonbridge Detachment back in September 2010, nearly 10 years ago, as a fresh faced 12 year old. I had no idea really what the ACF was, but I really liked the idea of it. It presented me with so many opportunities that school and the civilian world could not provide - particularly a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

I was able to complete everything up to 4*, and left as a Colour Sgt in 2016, before I went to university and joined the UOTC. ACF helped me to lay the groundwork for what I hope will be a long and fulfilling military career after I commission next April. The Army Officer Selection Board was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was made infinitely easier by the amount of command tasks we did on camps! I suppose what I wanted to do was firstly say thank you, and secondly provide you with a positive story to pass on. Exercise Long Reach was certainly long enough to think this over!

To people currently in the ACF, or thinking of joining, grasp it with both hands. Squeeze it for every opportunity you can. Go on the battlefield tours, learn the history, enjoy the green stuff, do all the AT you possibly can. And the stuff you don’t enjoy? Well, everything has to finish at some point!