I joined as a cadet in Glamorgan ACF in 2003 when my music teacher at school told me about the cadet band. One of my friends in school played the trumpet, so we went along together.
I became a member of the band detachment and immediately began performing in community events.
As a cadet I progressed through the Music Army Proficiency Certificate (APC) syllabus, achieved my four star, and reached the rank of Colour Sergeant.
When I was a young teenager, I was very shy and quiet, and cadets made me come out of my shell and develop my own voice. Later, when I moved away from my hometown to university, I felt very homesick but being a member of the ACF provided me with the support network that I needed to get me through that challenging time, and provided me with the life skills I needed to support myself.
Becoming an adult volunteer was a natural progression. I enjoyed my time as a cadet so much that I wanted to give something back, and to make the cadet experience even better for future cadets. I’m now a Second Lieutenant with Gwent and Powys ACF and Officer Commanding Band and Drums. I wanted to become an officer as I feel that I have fresh ideas to help push my band forward, an in-depth knowledge of the needs of my cadets and can make progression and development fun
Since becoming an officer I’ve gained additional responsibility and developed my leadership skills, something that has translated into my professional life really well. I am currently the Pastoral Manager for a local secondary school. My employer was so impressed at my role in the ACF that I was offered my job during the interview! Since then they’ve been impressed by the positive and supportive relationships I have developed with the students, which have helped me to help them.
Cadets benefit massively from being in the ACF. Many young people join the ACF for the structure, discipline and support that the ACF provides, and I have seen young people go from quiet, shy and retiring children, to strong and confident young adults. At the other end of the spectrum, I have witnessed children who join the ACF with behavioural issues transform into responsible young members of society. The ACF really does have the power to change lives.