Members of the armed forces visited the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick to talk to students interested in a military career. Year 11 student Gabriel Brown reports on the visit.
Corporal Dusty Jacques, a server in the RAF of 14 years so far, spoke about what other things they get involved in, such as a recent story about a school bus of Nigerian children being recovered thanks to their help.
Both he and Sgt Andrew Robbins, a recruitment officer from the Army, told me also about the media and journalism side of the armed forces, its own little niche, with it being described as ‘someone kicking down a door with a reporter writing just behind them’.
Both said that everyone has a stereotypical picture of the armed forces, but in fact, there are so many different aspects of it people do not consider, ranging from technicians, doctors, chefs, all the way to military journalists.
Year 13 students, Michael Head and Beth Lewington both told me their specific interests in armed forces work, with Beth wanting to become a warfare officer before going on to specialise in mine disposal, and Michael interested in joining the Army as an officer, while unsure about a specific role.
Joe Pope, an ex-student of the Duchess’s High School, said: “I always envisioned myself joining one of the forces, but after taking the time to look over all three, I decided the Navy would be the one for me, mainly because of the travelling, the chance to see new places, and the whole life at sea aspect.”
He, along with Dusty and Andrew, said that it’s hard to give an idea of any form of typical day, as so much is always going on it makes a huge variation.
Joe even says he was surprised with things at the Navy being not what he expected, with the hardest thing he’s ever had to do being six-hour shifts, six on, six off, for a whole two weeks. He was ‘waking up in the middle of the night thinking it was time for breakfast’, which shows how much the confusion can set in.
In terms of schooling going on into the armed forces, Joe tells us that the ‘more qualifications, the better’. He advises to follow like what he did, go to school and do GCSEs, and do A-Levels if you can. The Navy can also fund you for university too.
Joe serves on HMS Scott, a survey vessel which goes out into deep waters such as the Atlantic to survey the seabed and then update maps. Last year, he says, they discovered canyons and mountains ‘the size of Everest’ underwater, which was particularly exciting for him as a ‘warfare specialist being on a survey ship is pretty much unheard of’.
In terms of his work on dry land, one of the things Joe does is help prepare the ship to get ready for its going back out to sea. Much like a car, any repairs must be completed.
Ironically, there have been stories about armed forces members playing big war games such as Call of Duty, but in terms of accuracy, Joe says they are incredibly inaccurate.
Generally, instead of the consistent action these games provide, the reality is ‘completely different’ where 99 per cent of the time nothing is happening, with the rare one per cent where something actually does. He also says that Fifa, a football game, is the big thing on board, with actual tournaments taking place between the crew.
I learnt lots from both Joe and the rest of the armed forces members, especially how surprising it is that people still don’t realise how many different niches there are to explore as a job in the armed forces, with Andrew telling me on the army website there’s 76 types of job, and within those there are over 220 different roles.