Downham Market woman Kelly Thomas, once Norfolk’s first fully qualified female motor vehicle engineer, has reached new heights and become one of the county’s newest Army Cadet Force officers.
With no previous military service, Kelly (42) successfully completed an officer selection board held at Westbury in Wiltshire during May. She was rewarded with a Type ‘B’ Territorial Army Queen’s Commission as a Second Lieutenant working in Norfolk with young people aged between 12 and 18.
Busy mother of five Kelly, a mobile complimentary therapist who spends her normal working day improving the health and well being of others, joined the Army Cadet Force as a potential instructor in 2012 and since then there has been no looking back.
“Two of my children were in the cadet force so it seemed natural to take part”, she said. “I was hooked on the first night and absolutely love it. I applied for a commission because progress in the cadet force is open to everyone and to show that women can do it to!”
And Kelly did it with style, having progressed from Adult instructor to Detachment Commander at Downham Market, she set her sights on becoming a first aid trainer. Following training at the National Cadet Training Centre at Frimley Park she has since been appointed as the County First Aid Officer responsible for training and assessing cadet force adults and young people throughout Norfolk.
“Through first aid I found a passion that I could share with others” says Kelly. “The cadet force offers many interests, not only for the cadets but also for adults. It’s a supportive atmosphere and everything is geared towards safe, fun activities that develop young people as individuals in their own right.”
Kelly’s other cadet interests, having also qualified as a flute player during her service, include developing the recently created corps of drums and reaching the rank of Captain so she can be more involved with the planning and organisation of cadet training activities.
“Responsibility for the well being of young people is a satisfying but also serious business,” she says. “I want to do all I can to ensure their enjoyment in a safe learning environment.”
In their spare time Kelly’s family enjoy airsoft events twice a month at Cambridge and her husband James, who is second in command of the cadet detachment at Swaffham, is aiming for a Queen’s Commission of his very own.
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More good news is that the Army Cadet Force is seeking additional adults from all walks of life who share Kelly’s passion for assisting young people to achieve. No previous military experience or high levels of fitness are required. The ACF needs 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 and practical qualifications are also on offer, which could also improve personal career success.
For more information about the army cadet force and how you can be part of it call 01362 694515 or visit www.armycadets.com