After a 23 year career in the Army, which I started four days after officially leaving school at the age of 16, it was quickly coming up to my retirement at the young age of 40!  I had applied to join the police, as the thought of a normal nine to five job was not my cup of tea. I was lucky enough to have been accepted and I start the day after I leave the armed forces in October 2014.

Having served on nine operational tours over my career, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, I was looking for something to do within my last few months as a serving soldier. I was posted to Leicester Careers Office a few years ago and as part of my outreach tasks I was introduced to The Prince’s Trust 12 Week Team Programme, delivered by Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, through some of the Team members who had shown an interest in a career in the Army.  I would speak to them and even act as their recruiter if they did indeed want to join.  I also assisted on a Team residential and community project back in 2007.

I was told about secondments by one of the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service Prince’s Trust Team Leaders so I asked my Career Management Officer about it and said I would like to apply for it.  This would allow me to be back in the UK for longer than my last 6 months entitlement, as I was posted in Germany. I contacted Juliet Briggs, the Delivery Partner Manager, and spoke to her about my intentions, and she was more than happy to have me as a secondee. I was put onto the Team Leader training course which I enjoyed and learnt so many new things after having been focused on the Army for so long.

Having completed my training I was given the role of Assistant Team Leader working alongside Team Leader Laura Henderson who had lead several teams before. At first I was like a rabbit in headlights, having to watch what I said and remembering that the Team members are not in the Army and do not always do what you ask of them. After a couple of weeks I started to get used to the way young people behave, dress and even speak and I realised that I had been in a bubble for so long and really lost touch with young people.

Laura told me to relax and just be myself, which was the best advice I could have. I found that the young people would listen to me, especially when I was frank with them, as they often found people aren’t these days and they respected me for telling them the truth in an honest and straight forward manner. I have learnt so much from working on the Team Programme, it has not only opened my eyes to the younger generation but it has also stopped me from  judging people based on just the way they dress or speak. The Team members I have worked with may not have had the best start in life or maybe got mixed up with the wrong people, but they have made a start to change their life around just by turning up on the first day and later on by completing the whole 12 weeks.

I have loved every minute working with Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and The Prince’s Trust and it has given me such a boost in my confidence working with young people, which no doubt will have a positive effect in my next job as a police officer.

I cannot recommend the experience enough to any serving member or ex-member of the Armed Forces who is looking for a challenging but rewarding time at work.

Staff Sergeant Kev Bagshaw
9th/12th Royal Lancers (POW’s)