A once-shy adult volunteer has described how she enjoys inspiring young people in her community to reach their personal goals and learn new skills.
Staff Sergeant Instructor Laura Gardener, 28, volunteers with Derbyshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) and credits her career and increase in self-confidence to being a part of the youth organisation.
Beginning her ACF journey as a shy 13-year-old cadet, Laura later went on to re-join the Cadet Force as an adult volunteer to pass on her skills and expertise to those younger than herself.
Laura, who in her day-to-day life works full-time for the Youth Hostel Association, said: “I was incredibly shy as a child, I used to hide behind the sofa when anyone new came to our house.
“One of my friends from school was in the cadets and eventually persuaded me to go along to a training evening to see if I wanted to join.
“This was really scary for me but I stuck with it, meaning I’ve now been a part of the ACF for more than half of my life.”
The mother-of-one from Matlock is someone who has overcome the fear of meeting new people, making new friends and standing up in front of groups of people as part of a presentation. Laura finds that she can relate to some of her cadets on a personal level.
She added: “To see a young person coming into the cadets in a similar position to what I was originally, and then watching them grow is fantastic.
“Many of my cadets have thanked me and my fellow volunteers for helping them carve out a set direction in life, helping them communicate with others and putting them on the right track for a career in their chosen field.”
During Laura’s time in the Cadet Force she has achieved both basic and intermediate first aid qualifications that she has since been able to use in her workplace, and has become a qualified short range course and dismounted close combat training instructor, meaning she can lead cadets at indoor laser shooting ranges.
“Being a part of the ACF means so much to me. I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’m a busy working mum but my detachment always understands that as volunteers we can only give as much of our time as we can. In my opinion there are not many things that could restrict you joining the Cadet force.”
For more visit www.armycadets.com/adventure.