18 June 2018
We spoke to Cadet Tara Francis from Snodland Detachment and her father who was a former cadet there too.
How do you think you’ve benefited from being in the Army Cadets?
I feel more confident in the things I do, like meeting and talking to people.
Why did you decide to join?
My parents encouraged me to join to try and improve my self-confidence, so I thought I would give it a try. My father was an instructor with D Company and was a cadet when he was younger.
What are your favourite ACF activities and why?
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.
Have you faced any challenges in life that the ACF has helped you overcome?
Yes, it helped me to overcome the challenges of secondary school, having learning difficulties and having lots of different teachers.
“Fun, friendship, action, adventure” – do these describe your time in the ACF?
I have made a best friend at cadets called L/Cpl Downs. My first weekend at Crowborough was an adventure because I’d never stayed away from home without my family before and I couldn’t even find the NAAFI.
Do you think being in the ACF will help your career/job/future prospects and, if so, how will it help?
It would show that I am happy to do things for others and that I am motivated. If I decided to do Duke of Edinburgh award at cadets, it would look good on my CV.
What difference do you think your friends and family have seen in you since joining the ACF?
My mum and dad have both said how much more outgoing and confident I have become.
Can you tell me about a time in the ACF when you really challenged or surprised yourself?
I challenged myself in May when I went on my first fieldcraft weekend but because I was on my own and didn’t really know anybody, I found sleeping outside too challenging this time. I also surprised myself and my parents at how well I did the first time I ever shot.
What are you most proud of / or what’s been your best moment since joining the Army Cadets?
Passing my basic training and teaching other cadets drill.
Here’s what her father said:
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 two 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.
She has a focus and an aim when she finishes school which is to work with animals (no mention of the military yet). Both myself and her mother are very proud of her achievements and I am very proud to have been associated with Kent Army Cadets and thankful for what they have helped Taz achieve.