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Armed Forces Week, Cadet Force volunteer spotlight: Rhiannon Saunders

How long have you worked for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW) and what is your day to day civilian role?

I started at MTW 16+ years ago, via Staff Bank mainly working within Health Records and I then went on to become permanent staff. I’ve moved around a bit doing clerical positions and am currently PA for the Trust’s Emergency Department at Maidstone Hospital.

What motivated you to become an Adult Cadet Force Volunteer and what do you enjoy most about volunteering to help young people?

My husband has been involved in KACF for about eight years, after being in the regular and the Territorial Army so the military is and will always be a huge part of our lives. The company had been asking me for as long as he had been involved to join myself, but I’d put it off for one reason or another; life can be busy as a working parent but this year just felt a little different so I thought, “okay, I’ll jump in!”

Working with children from all walks of life and abilities is what motivated me to give in and join myself – many children come along as a place of solitude and escape from day-to-day life and school, etc. so it’ll be good to play a small part in their stories. As its still early days, I can’t yet tell you what I enjoy most but I’m sure by this time next year I’ll be able to share bundles!

What would you say the highlights are of being an Adult Cadet Force Volunteer?

I’m sure they’ll be the rewarding feelings watching the children grow, develop and change, along with watching those who choose to go into the military. I already have witnessed some of this, watching from the side lines. I’ve been part of many social and community gatherings since I’ve been connected to the cadets so to be fully immersed in this will be much more enjoyable (I hope!).

What skills have you gained from your time volunteering that you have brought to your role in the NHS?

I’m sure there will be plenty of people and communication skills I can transfer between the two; the challenges may be different but many of the workings will be similar. I’m also hoping to gain and improve leadership skills which I hope to use in future job roles within the Trust.

Why would you encourage people to volunteer for the cadets?

Ultimately KACF will always need more help, but the kids will thrive if they’re given opportunities by those who want to help them – plus parts of the service are paid, so it’s a win win!

Do you feel supported as an Adult Cadet Force Volunteer in the Trust?

I’m sure I will; I’ve already been made aware of the support in place for training, service leave, etc. and the support from the Veteran Aware Steering Group throughout the Trust is going to keep growing – although its already great!