From the Cadets to the Parachute Regiment (and back again)!

Sergeant Instructor Dan Eccles tells us about returning to the Army Cadet Force after his military service.

10 November 2019

Sergeant Instructor Dan Eccles tells us his journey from being a cadet at Merseyside Army Cadet Force to joining the Parachute Regiment and then returning to the ACF as an Adult Instructor.

1) When did you get first get involved with the Army Cadets and why?

I first joined as a cadet when I was about 15, my brother had been in for a few years and was enjoying it a lot, I decided I wanted to join the Army so used it as a sort of stepping-stone towards that as I knew I would learn more about the Army and have fun doing it. I re-joined as an adult in November 2016.

2) What did you like/love about being in the Army Cadets?

I liked learning all of the military subjects and wearing the uniform, I'd been interested in the Army for a while and it was good to be involved in a uniformed youth organisation at a young age. It was also an opportunity to meet lots of different people from different units and areas around Merseyside and make new friends.

3) How old where you when you joined the Army? Why the Parachute Regiment? (any funny anecdotes about training etc.)

I joined the army in Oct 2009 when I was 17, I was able to go straight into the adult intake at ITC Catterick. I chose the Parachute Regiment because of its reputation for being difficult to get into, and that the Regiment had notoriously high standards in all things. I always want to push myself and it seemed the perfect opportunity to test that. The difficulty of the training became very obvious as soon as I started.

4)When did you leave the Army?

I left the army in October 2014

5) What was your proudest moment in service?

It’s difficult to choose one moment but passing out of depot in Catterick was definitely one of my proudest moments as I was so difficult and so many people had dropped out or left during the 28 weeks. Another proud moment was when I was part of the parade when 16 Air Assault Brigade marched through Colchester after we returned from Afghanistan in 2011. Thousands of people lined the streets for us and It was good to see the support from everybody after the tour.

6) What do you like about being an adult instructor?

Being an instructor allows me to use and pass on all of the knowledge I gained whilst I served, which I think is good for the cadets learning from someone with real experience. It also allows me to be around people of a similar mentality and interests to me which was helpful when I was transitioning from soldier to civilian.

Another big reason why I enjoy it is to see the genuine effect it can have on the young cadets, acting as a positive role model can be very useful to teenagers that might be struggling in school or in other areas of their lives, and we offer a place for them to come and escape every other stress they might have to deal with in a safe, fun and engaging environment which can help them hugely with personal development.

7) Would you recommend becoming an adult volunteer to military (Army) leavers? If so why?

I would definitely recommend the ACF to other Army leavers. It can offer an opportunity to stay in uniform and stay around the skills that have become so important to them over the years they have served.

It can offer so much as an organization such as civilian AT and military range courses. I would also recommend the organisation to non-military people that would like to experience new and exciting opportunities and meet lots of great new people.

8) Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m glad that I joined the ACF, it’s a very rewarding organisation to be involved in and offers fantastic opportunities to both adults and cadets, whether that be just wanting to make new friends, experience new things you wouldn't normally get to do or pass on skills from a military background or not, it offers something for everybody!