BBC News Army Cadets saved my life

Discussion in 'OTC and ACF' started by tebagagap, Apr 8, 2008.

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  1. BBC Website

    By Tom Geoghegan
    BBC News Magazine

    Shaun made lifelong friends
    Ministers want to expand the Combined Cadets Force to more comprehensive schools, in a move backed by the Conservatives. Youth worker Shaun Bailey explains how 15 years as a Cadet kept him out of prison and made him who he is today.

    When 12-year-old Shaun Bailey walked on to a west London council estate to join the Army Cadets - pretending he was 13 - he was by his own admission "gobby" and aggressive.

    His mother was concerned he was falling into the wrong crowd and sent him off to 204 Cadet Company in White City, a 20-minute walk from the family home. He now believes her decision was the making of him.

    "Cadets steered me away from crime and gave me an internal personal pride," says Bailey, now 36 and running a youth charity in the streets where he grew up.

    "It taught me how to succeed, which is key. Living on your estate, success is beating people up or making money by hustling."

    His motives on that first day were not aligned with his mother's - he just wanted to be "rock hard" like a Para and show off a "cool" uniform on the estate.

    Two evenings a week plus one weekend session were spent on activities such as shooting, adventure training, map reading, drill training or sports like football, athletics, rugby and gymnastics. Two weekends a month were spent on camp.

    "It was very 'Boys Own' - we went out and did stuff. Annual camp was the highlight of my life from the age of 13 to 25, it was two weeks in the summer but I would start saving my money three to four months before."

    Although the unit's 600-odd cadets were drawn from the local area, it was a bit of a "white boy" thing at the start, he says, but as time went by the recruits became more diverse.

    "Joining Cadets was the point when I was starting to become different and my mates [on the estate] noticed it. I was always asking them to join but they said they couldn't stand having someone shouting at them.

    "But you have to take orders, you have to be told stuff by adults and I carried that through to when I went home or when I went to school."

    Once a youngster accepts discipline from an adult, then the rest of his life becomes easier, and the men giving orders to the Cadets instantly earned respect.

    "When a big, hard man tells you to shut your mouth, you do it. But if a schoolteacher does that, the kid will jump up and talk about suing."

    Cadets are taught that breaking a rule has consequences, says Bailey, and his habit of using his fists to resolve conflict earned him a lot of press-ups when he first joined.

    Other punishments, for late timekeeping, dirty uniform or messing around, included the deprivation of rewards or blocked promotion.

    Bailey says he became so dedicated to the rules and regulations that with a prize on offer for the cleanest room when on camp, he boot-polished his heater to make it less grubby-looking and slept on the floor because he had ironed his bedclothes.

    "In the long-term it taught me to invest in myself. I wanted to win [the TV show] Superstars so I trained to do it. I wanted to be promoted so I learnt to map-read, even though at the time, it was boring and hard.

    "On the streets, most pay-offs are immediate or you don't bother with them.

    "A problem is getting young people to engage in something that won't pay off. But sometimes you have to just hang on in there."

    Aged 17 he was tempted to join the Army but decided to focus his energy into helping wayward youngsters in his community. He continued in the Cadets for another 10 years as a sergeant instructor.

    Tim Connolly, who was Bailey's captain when he joined, recalls a boy who needed direction. "I think he got out of the Cadets things he wasn't getting out of schooling. We saw him mature and he became a very able young man."

    But not everyone believes the Army is a positive influence on young people. Teachers have opposed the Forces recruiting in schools because they fear the classroom being militarised.

    Bailey disagrees and thinks its influence on young people is all positive.

    The answer to youth crime?

    His experience made him realise how futile war is, he says, because a trip to Arnhem aged 16, to meet veterans and see the graves, enabled him to see beyond the Hollywood version of the battlefield.

    And far from fetishising guns, he says handling a rifle has generated a "loathing" in him for firearms.

    Unfortunately for some of his early friends, violence was their undoing. A few got into trouble and were jailed and some even lost their lives.

    Bailey recalls one particular night when if he hadn't been at Cadets he would have joined his friends in burgling a factory, a misadventure that led to them all being arrested.

    "I sometimes think that the problems that led them down that alley, the skills I learnt in Cadets could have saved them.

    "When I try to make sense of why I am who I am and why they are who they are, I can't escape the fact I was a Cadet. It was absolutely vital."
  2. If ministers want to expand the Combined Cadets Force to more comprehensive schools, in a move backed by the Conservatives then it should introduced to all schools in the u.k. whether they are public or state schools.
  3. Yup, thats why i love cadets!
  4. This wouldn't have anything to do with the NUT voting to ban Army Recruiting from schools or the bad PR that the drowning of Kaylee McIntosh created by any chance?

    I bet her mum wishes she didn't do what the adults told her without questioning.
  5. maninblack

    maninblack LE Book Reviewer

    no, it has been a plan in progress for at least 3 years
  6. I'm not entirely sure what happened with her, but it was an accident, and they do happen. On the other hand, as a Sea Cadet for 6ish years, I never once heard of a sea cadet drowning, and we were on the water a lot more than the ACF. Even on blue water sea voyages, we never lost anyone MOB.
  7. I meant the attempt to steer the publicity not any pie in the sky scheme to push the CCF on schools.

    Kaylee McIntosh's death may have been an accident but the events leading up to it appear to have been so badly managed that a criminal prosecution is likely.

    Possibly like putting a 13yr old on the radio claiming that he's been firing fullbore - someone ought to read their own safety pamphlets.
  8. Having CCF in every school relies (surprisingly) on having teachers that have served and are willing to become Cadet Officers - an increasingly rare bird these days. How does this fit in with the NUTs resolution to ban the armed forces from schools?

    Unfortunately, as this policy has come from the forces-hating Gordon Brown, I see it as little more than another 'eye-catching initiative', designed to boost Gordon's low popularity, which will be quietly dropped when it is shown to be too difficult to achieve.
  9. Why not give the money to the ACF, SCC and ATC.

    Oh wait thats actualy SENSIBLE!! Sorry forgott who was in charge for a moment.

    Kaylee McIntosh's death was a very stupid accident that should never of happened. Ive read the report. One big fcuk up after anouther.
  10. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    Oddly enough, the PM is a VERY big fan of the Cadets. Current problems are twofold. Firstly, the lack of knowldege as regards the difference between the in-school CCF and the in-community ACF/SCC/ATC. CCFs are meant to allow access to the 'cadet experience' for students who cannot join a community-based Unit - ACF/ATC/CCF. Where there are sufficient ACF Units, what's the point of setting up a CCF?
    The second factor is of course cash - notice that, for all his support, Mr Brown has not actually committed a single penny to this initiative.

    Finally, as noted in earlier posts, the limiting factor is most often availability of instructors (this is ususally the same for all types of cadets) rather than anything else. If Headmasters and Teaschers won't support it, a CCF Unit cannot exist. I imagine the NOT are not particularly supportive of this sort of thing..............
  11. As far I'm aware all companies in the ACF now have to have a school detachment (well in my county they need to). I think this is a better idea than putting more CCF's into schools as CCF's are run by teachers and many teachers I know live miles away from the schools thus wouldn't want to run one. Also the teenagers they are going to aim these CCFs at are the kind that don't WANT to be in school and don't WANT to see thier teachers thus they wouldn't join the in-school CCF as they probably didn't bother going to school that day and therefore aren't going to turn up to their school's CCF plus if they won't listen to their teachers when they are in school why would they listen to them out of school? By putting more money into developing the ACF/ATC/SCC they are more likely to appeal to the people I'm sure they are trying to appeal to as it isn't connected to school.
  12. There has been some increase in closed ACF units at F Ed colleges doing PSA.

    I'm not sure how the powers that be perceive this working in practise. Presumably Lt Geography Teacher will give the kids 'discipline' in his Fairtrade CS95's on a Thursday afternoon; reverting to touchy feely, leather elbow patched, Ofsted placater for the rest of the week without the kids batting an eyelid.

    What happens to the ACF Det. in Chavsville when Chavsville High and The John Prescott Technical College both have their own CCF's taking away 2/3rds of the ACF unit's recruiting grounds?

    Still, at least the cadet movement might get an understanding of education practice and training methods that post dates 1955.
  13. I thought the difference was that CCFs recruited future officers and ACFs recruited future ORs?
  14. SNOB :lol:
  15. i tell you, I've been in the ACF for almost a year and its turned my life around full