Lieutenant Dileepa-John Bennett (DJ to his friends), 25, is the Detachment Commander at the Army Cadet Detachment based at Royal Alexandra and Albert School in Merstham, Surrey. DJ, who lives in Surbiton, is an ex-Cadet and took over command of the detachment two years ago after a three year stint running the Richmond Detachment. He juggles his own growing building business with volunteering with the Army Cadet Force. He said “It’s my time to give back to the ACF. I had such a good time as a cadet and I want to pay that back. I was a pupil at the school where my detachment is located and so I know what the cadets are experiencing, especially those who are boarding.” He added “I know that with the ACF we can give the cadets an experience that they won’t get anywhere else and that you only get out of it what you’re prepared to put in, in terms of effort and commitment. “ DJ enjoys being a mentor to his 46 cadets who are at all levels from Basic to 3 Star and feels justifiably proud when his cadets do well. He said “We drum the core values into our cadets; discipline, integrity, loyalty, courage, respect for others and selfless commitment and those have stood me in good stead so far in my life. I am a product of the ACF. With my cadet training and having commissioned out of Westbury, I’ve learnt tremendous leadership and management skills and so staff management never phases me. These are skills I use in my work and in cadets”. DJ is keen and very motivated and inspires his cadets to do well. He hopes to take on the role as a dedicated County Training Officer in the future.
Staff Sergeant Instructor Barrie Strong, 31, lives in Carshalton and is a Cadet Force Adult Volunteer, running the Banstead ACF Detachment. Barrie, who has four children ranging in age from 2 to 12, juggles his family life and his job doing intallations for Virgin Media with his cadet force commitments. He said “I’ve been volunteering with the ACF for ten years now. It’s my opportunity to give something back as I had a really good time when I was a cadet. I left school and joined the Regular Army, serving for five years with the Royal Artillery”. Barrie clearly enjoys being an adult instructor and mentoring young people. He said “There is such a wide variety of activities that we offer and seeing the cadets achieve something is the greatest motivator for me. You have to have passion though and enjoy what you do because it’s a big commitment. Barrie has learnt leadership and time management skills from the ACF and the Army which have stood him in good stead. In addition to being a Detachment Commander, on weekend exercises, Barrie takes on the role of CQMS, responsible for the stores and logistics including transport and all equipment.
Lieutenant Lawrence Bowes, 35, is a restaurateur and has been an adult volunteer with Surrey ACF for eight years. A former CCF Cadet at Seaford College in the RAF Contingent, Lawrence, who lives in Petworth, wanted to give something back as a thank you for the valuable skills and experiences he gained when he was younger. He said “My cadet skills have followed me throughout my life and have put me in good stead.” Former Detachment Commander at Leatherhead ACF, Lawrence is now the Surrey ACF County Sports Officer which requires him to organise all county sporting events and ensure that Surrey ACF is represented. He is also there to encourage and support cadets who enter into national sporting events. This year, Surrey ACF is focusing on four sports: swimming, rugby, tug of war and athletics. He added “Sport is such an important part of the ACF and seeing the cadets grow up and achieve is the personal reward for me”.
Find out how you can become an Adult Volunteer here: https://armycadets.com/volunteer-with-us/
Find out about Surrey ACF here: https://armycadets.com/county/surrey-acf/