When I first joined the ACF I was on medication for ADHD but within a year I had come off of it

24 July 2018

Cadet Company Sergeant Major Liam Edwards, 17, from D Coy - he's also a great photographer for the Company! His father is a instructor in the ACF and he also had a brother in who has now left. WE talk to him about his rise up through the ranks and what he likes about being in the ACF.

From being the ACF I have gained  my First Aid qualification which looks good on my CV and when I’m applying for jobs, this will also help me in any medical situations either at cadets or day-to-day.

Currently I have been applying for Apprenticeships, for example I’ve been applying to Land Rover, SEAT, Renault, Audi and Volkswagen. Also, I’ve applied for a HGV Apprenticeship at DAF (a big HGV dealership).

fore applying for these Apprenticeships, I was at Mid Kent College in Maidstone studying Level 2 Light Vehicle Maintenance.

I was at college for a year, I started in September 2017 and finished in June 2018. I feel that college had taught me a lot in just a one year; the tutors treated you like adults and gave us more independence. The tutors would give us more independence because their reason behind it was; this is how you would be treated in a proper garage. I found this very eye opening; it was so different in comparison to secondary. After the year at college I was a qualified mechanic what seemed quite scary but now looking at it, it is a very helpful having that trade because I will always have a job even when the cars all go to being powered by electricity.

In my time at Mascalls Secondary I did struggle with maths and English because when I was a child I had problems which held back me back academically. When I finished primary school in 2012, at the age of 11 my work was like a 7-year-old had done it. But weirdly enough I did enjoy doing science  - which seems odd as I struggled doing maths and English.

Out of the three science I more enjoyed physics, when I got my results last year I got a C in science (I know for some people they would be disappointed getting a C as they were getting A's or B's), I was so thrilled getting a C in science, it was so unexpected. But it was a different story when I looked at my results for my Maths and English. I got a 3 (in old terms I got a D) I was upset although I still got into college on an unconditional placement.

I remember when I heard my results for the first time, it was last year, 24th August and I was on Annual camp, helping D company being one of their seniors. I felt my phone going off, I asked to be excused from the lesson and answered it when I got out side. My mum had to FaceTime me to tell me my result, (the signal on camp wasn’t  the best it kept cutting out) but when I finally heard my result I was sort of happy but my mum was crying, she said I am so proud of you.

How do you think you’ve benefited from being in the Army Cadets?

I think I have benefited from being ACF because I have become more confident in myself. I now feel I push myself out my comfort zone when trying out new things or doing things I wouldn’t do normally.

Why did you decide to join?

I decided to join to hear what all the fuss was about at school as the Cadet hut is in the school grounds. I first heard it from my mates who saw an assembly about it. I didn’t go but I asked my mates where it happens, what days and times. They told me, and it happened to be one of the nights they were open.

That night my mum took me up and I was so nervous about joining because only one of my mates decided to go, I went in with my mum and spoke to CSGT Dwyer (who is now the RSM) who at the time was the DC and he gave me the paperwork to fill out. Since then I have been at Mascalls Detachment.

What are your favourite ACF activities and why?

My favourite activities within the ACF have to be drill and shooting. The reason for liking drill is that when it is done right it looks so satisfying and it’s so pleasing to know that I have taught cadets who look so smart.

I like the shooting aspect of cadets because I find it relaxing when shooting but the only thing I don’t like about shooting is the part that comes after, cleaning the weapons. But that’s all part of shooting experience.

Have you faced any challenges in life that the ACF has helped you overcome?

Yes, I have, it was when I was having an interview for an apprenticeship, I was nervous about it and I remembered what I do to calm my nerves when I have to take company parades. By doing that I kept my nerves down well in the interviews and the boss said that my interview went well, although I didn’t get the apprenticeship, their loss.

“Fun, friendship, action, adventure” – do these describe your time in the ACF? Any stories to tell around these themes?

100% they do, I remember when I did my 3* in 2016. We were put into sections to do our expedition, we had completed our first day and the weather was gloomy but luckily it didn’t rain. On the last day of the walk it is boiling hot, we had like 1km left and for the last part we were singing songs just to get through the rest.

The friendship part best describes what the ACF is about, because now I have mates all over the UK. We meet up every so often to catch up or we have party for someone birthday or just a party for the fun of it. In cadets you make lifelong friends and that makes it all worthwhile.

Do you think being in the ACF will help your career/job/future prospects and, if so, how will it help?

Yes, it has because I put on my CV that I do cadets and the employers are interested in what it is about, in most interviews I’ve had they ask me what cadets is about or they have rough understanding of what it is and ask me what level I am at, what rank I am as well. Most of the employers say if you have something like cadets on your CV you most likely get the job over someone who hasn’t done anything like cadets.

Do you think you’d have got the same benefits from joining another youth organisation? If not, why not?

In my case I have only been in the one youth organisation, the Army Cadets but looking at other youth organisations the ACF is to me the better one, as we do more activities to do and go away more on camps or weekends.

What difference do you think your friends and family have seen in you since joining the ACF?

Most of my family have said since I had joined cadets I have been more confident in myself and would try new things I wouldn’t do before. My mum would say since me joining I have more self-pride, determination. When I first joined the ACF I was on medication for ADHD but within a year I came off them as leaned to be more focussed.

Can you tell me about a time in the ACF when you really challenged or surprised yourself?

I have surprised my self in cadets because when I started I was aiming to get to 3* and get Sergeant, now 5 years later in cadets I have met my aim and gone so much further. Now I am 4* passed, and CSM of D coy. I didn’t think I would get this far.

What are you most proud of / or what’s been your best moment since joining the Army Cadets?

The proudest moment in cadets has to be when I got my first stripe Lance Corporal in 2015, I was over the moon when I got promoted and I couldn’t get rid of my smile for weeks. Another proud moment has to be when I was promoted by Captain Packer to Sergeant Major, I was so shocked; I wasn’t expecting it, at the time I was at the side of company parade taking photos so could be put on Facebook, all I remember is seeing my dad running over to the parade to fall in at the side as he just finished he duty driving and that caught my eye for the moment so I wasn’t listening I was confused by that because at the time I didn’t know he was on the duty driving list. When I was about to take a photo of  D company after Captain Packer said this: “…. only a few get the rank of Sergeant Major, and with that from CSGT to Sergeant Major, well done Sergeant Major Edwards”.

I was so shocked to get promoted as I only got my CSGT 2 months before in June.

If you hadn’t joined the ACF what would you be doing now?

If I hadn’t joined cadets I would be at home watching TV and doing nothing in my life, I hate to think about how thing could have turned out if I didn’t join cadets.

I would like to thank SMI Hallums for helping me get this far in cadets, he has pushed me through it even if I didn’t want to what I am so grateful for because I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I rmember my first remembrance parade at Mascalls in 2013 and I was so nervous, RSM Dwyer came to us basic cadets and helped us get through the parade. At the end he said he was proud as we had only been in the cadets about 2-3 weeks and had learnt drill so quickly.

Overall I would like to thank all of the D Company instructors for helping me to get where I am today. Also a massive thank you to SMI Hedges for pushing for the construction of Mascalls Detachment to finally make it happen after 4 years.