How the ACF changed my life

7 December 2020

Sue Loveridge joined Rochester Detachment back in the 2000's, she was a Corporal and wanted to tell us about the impact being in Kent ACF had in her life.

Here's her story:

Cadets was the making of me and was my get away from a life of madness, I made friends for life and learned from so many of the adult instructors.

My chances of being successful were very slim, although many people didn't know I was a hidden dyslexic and had a mum with bipolar who battled a drink problem. I went unnoticed at school because I didn't display bad behaviour and was quiet, which was the complete opposite to my siblings.

One of my memories is working hard to save up money for weekend and annual camps by working in the 24hr market cafe in Rochester washing up as my mum didn't and couldn't support me.

I ended up being placed in Endeavour Foyer (supported accommodation for teenagers in care) I use to talk to a member of staff there who said "Sue what ever you do not end up pregnant with a council house". I promised him I wouldn't.

In 2006 I joined the Regular Army in the hope to become a Medic. I actually passed my basic training but sadly wrote a letter a week before my pass out asking to leave. This was initially rejected. Admittedly life just got too much and I felt more confused then ever. Something I wanted for so long came along and I still felt lost, I also had someone finally to come home to (my now husband who I meet before I joined).

I didn't regret my decision and went back to see my troop pass out. I knew I made the right decision when I felt happiness and not sadness to see them pass out.

I didn't come out to sit around and do nothing, I went travelling, found the love for marathon running and made that an excuse to do more marathons in different countries.I was very grateful to find a job working for Public Health England training overweight families. I just loved fitness and being beasted.

I then found myself in different role and now work as an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer.

My husband one day encouraged me to join the Reserves. I initially laughed and brushed it off. I think he got fed up of me dragging him out at weekends to do something extreme when all he wanted to do was rest.

I finally did and joined 220 Medical Squadron of 254 Medical Regiment as a Medic. My god why didn't I do it sooner? I would consider I had a glamorous service. I learned and traveled so much. I ran for the Army Athletics team, I did many shooting competitions, trained in Cyprus, Ascension Island, went skiing and much more.

I served for 8 years and would love to be still serving but due to health and children taking priority this massively changed. I aimed to become a PTI and mentor to others. The others there where from all walks of life and felt like family.

My only advice to others:

" It's better to try something and admit it's not for you than getting older wishing you had tried it and it's not weak admitting it's not for you".

I now have two wonderful children, one is currently going to Rainbow's and I will fully encourage them to join as soon as they are old enough. No matter what path your life is on, either as a young person or an adult, I'd really recommend looking at the ACF as it can set you up for life with confidence, skills and a supportive learning environment.

My best time in the cadets included doing the Jim Page competition every year. I loved being part of a team and pushed to sweat loads. The banter between who the best detachments were never ended.

I loved annual camps with team building activities along with girly chats in the billets. I would add that I met friends for life no matter where I have been in the world, I've come back to good friends and my children have grown up alongside of them.