Brothers (and Sisters) In Arms

Issue 73

"Who's going to make me, you and whose army?" was a standard response at school when arguing with someone, and telling them to start or stop doing something. And how we all wished we really did have an Army

I regularly talk about my passion for, and appreciation of, being a Royal Artillery Cadet when I was 15. The joy of fitting in, wearing a uniform like everyone else around me, and being given equal opportunity.

The majority of us simply want to fit in and be accepted by our peers. The sense of belonging and inclusion when wearing a uniform is an incredibly unique and powerful experience. There is no better illustration of experiencing a true sense of community than within our Armed Forces. Of course, I am not saying that everyone has found it perfect, but the Forces has always offered a place for brother and sisterhood across the world.

When I finished the Cadets, I was desperate to join the Army and even remember going to the Careers Office on Ridley Place in Newcastle a couple of times to have a chat and then complete an aptitude test. Even looking at Sandhurst as a pathway. But a combination of external factors, including my late mother having none of it, prevented me from getting involved.

Other than my nephew joining the Marines, I didn’t give another thought to the Armed Forces until I became a School Governor at Tyneview Primary School in 2003. The Chair of Governors was Captain Neil Gardiner from the Territorial Army Centre next door to the school. We would regularly attend parades and activities, which all rekindled my own positive personal experiences.

Over the past 10 years I have had the honour and privilege to meaningfully connect with and support our Armed Forces attending various events and parades. All of these have reinforced what a wonderful opportunity is provided to every single member, who can join and grow personally and professionally. Whether you want to cook or clean, drive or dive, engineer or explore, innovate or invent there are thousands of careers available. Earlier this year I was appointed the Honorary Colonel of the 101st Regiment Royal Artillery by Our Majesty the Queen. This is the first time a non-military officer has been invited to take up this position. Being a proud and passionate Geordie, this was one of the greatest accolades I could ever consider, and the easiest decision I had ever made. In fact, I remember saying yes, and then asking what it meant afterwards.

Since joining, I have been surprised at the variety of members of the regiment, who are all reservists with day jobs. Being on exercise in Catterick, I saw first-hand the excitement and desire to learn, the sense of friendship. How, regardless of colour or background, every single member of the regiment was supported and encouraged to grow. Gaining incredible experiences alongside being a member of one of the greatest communities in the world.

If you are interested in exploring or having a conversation on how you too can develop yourself personally and professionally and getting paid, then please reach out. You will be welcomed with open arms and a wonderful life long opportunity to feel part of something very special. A true sister and brother hood!

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