Former Sergeant Major gets the ‘pip’ at Camp

A youth leader from Canewdon has been appointed as a Second Lieutenant in Essex Army Cadet Force during an annual training camp in Yorkshire arranged for over 400 teenagers.

Following success at a selection procedure held at Westbury in Wiltshire during May, John Girvan, (51), – formerly a Company Sergeant Major in charge of cadet force instructors in South East Essex – has earned his officer’s rank ‘pip’ and now holds a Territorial Army Type ‘B’Queens Commission with specific responsibility to train and develop young people throughout the County.

No stranger to military life, John joined the Combined Cadet Force whilst at school in Dunblane, Scotland at the age of 12 and went on to become a junior soldier at age 16. He later served for over 23 years as an adult with the Royal Regiment of Artillery. His extensive career took him as far afield as Germany, Northern Ireland and the Middle East earning him six medals and the coveted rank of Warrant Officer. During his service John  became a specialist in several technical military disciplines and for over two years held responsibility for the training of young soldiers.

“I joined the Army Cadet Force because I believe that experience gained in the services is of direct benefit to local young people” says John. “The transition from the army to becoming a youth leader in the army cadet force was well worth the challenge. The emphasis is on developing and encouraging young people between the ages of 12 and 18 to achieve their best by introducing them to standards and values which will help them to become whatever they wish to be in life.”

Before taking up his promotion as a commissioned officer, John completed his duties as a Company Sergeant Major at the Essex Army Cadet Force annual camp held at Wathgill in the Yorkshire Dales between 19th July and 1st August. Young army cadets from around the County benefitted from his expertise and now look forward to his future contribution to their training in a more senior capacity.

“My role at this year’s camp included providing supervisory guidance to several adult instructors and also the arrangement and delivery of safe, exciting and fun training packages for the cadets. My aim was to successfully complete my commitments as a Company Sergeant Major before moving on into officer service.”

As a Lead Supportability Engineer (Training) at international technology company Selex-ES based in Basildon, John continues to apply his valuable knowledge. He is involved in the development of electronic and IT business solutions in the areas of defence, aerospace and national infrastructures. Originally from Stirling in Scotland, he lives with his wife Margaret – Ann in Canewdon and in his spare time enjoys Skiing at intermediate level and cycling.

More good news is that the Army Cadet Force is seeking additional adults from all walks of life who share John’s passion for assisting young people to achieve. People able to take on the challenge of being an officer are needed throughout the area. The ACF need a range of people with common sense, drive and determination who have the ability to communicate with young people and lead other adults in shaping their future. Benefits include free training and equipment, repayment of expenses and payment for time given. Management qualifications are also on offer, which could also improve personal career success.

Get in touch…
For more information about the army cadet force and how you can be part of it call 01245 462302 or visit   

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