Tales of exciting adventure have been shared by former Bradford College students who went on to military careers.
Jason Devaney, FireFighter at RAF Odiham, and Niall Biddiscombe, Air and Space Operations Specialist (ASOS), gave an inspiring talk to Level 1 Public Services students about their roles in the Royal Air Force.
Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Jason told the group how, before joining the RAF, he had been studying Public Service at the college but didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He said: “At that point I had no interest in joining the military. There came a point when I thought to myself, ‘you’ve got to do something with your life.’”
After finding out about military careers online, Jason decided to apply for a role before embarking on a tough but rewarding training programme. He was posted to RAF Odiham in Hampshire, where he discovered, among other things, a host of opportunities to participate in sport. He added: “I’m a big ice hockey player, and in my first two years with the RAF I spent about six months out of the country doing sport.”
Jason described how he travelled to countries such as Belgium and Latvia through his sporting activity. He said: “The best thing I ever did was join the military.”
He was joined by Cpl Niall who studied Uniformed Public Services at the college before joining the RAF in September 2010. He undertook his initial 10-week training programme at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire and became a soldier before going through specialist trade training. In the RAF, Cpl Niall has had postings in RAF Scampton and Boulmer as well as overseas postings in the Falklands and the Middle East, where he had the opportunity to scuba dive. Niall had also been deployed to Australia and northern Sweden.
The students also heard from their RAF colleague Danny Smith, who sent a video message from New Zealand. Having served as a Royal Military Policeman and Close Protection Operator for five years, Danny was deployed to Afghanistan twice on Close Protection teams as a bodyguard and driver.
In the UK and Germany, Danny carried out policing duties on military garrisons which included everything from taking statements, conducting interviews, making arrests, joint patrols with civilian police and helping out big search jobs.
As a Royal Air Force Weapons Technician, he was on deployments to Norway, Germany and Cyprus building bombs, servicing aircraft guns, ejection seats, missile launchers and equipping fast jets with required weapons for training or bombing flights.
Speaking to a student who said she was currently unsure what she wanted to do in the future, Jason said it was a last-minute choice for him to join the military. He said: “I wasn’t ready for work and I knew I didn’t want to stay in education.”
When asked what they would say to their younger selves if they went back in time, Jason said: “Listen to your tutors. Something will click and you will realise ‘they’re telling me this because they want me to succeed.’”
The students heard how the military life could be stressful, with Niall saying: “When you’re coming from civilian life into military life, all of a sudden you are being screamed at at 5am to get out of bed. But you don’t think ‘why am I doing this?’ The benefits outweigh the negatives.”
Bradford College’s Public Services Level 1 course provides a realistic introduction to work in any of the Uniformed Public Services including: Fire, Police, Ambulance, Prison, Customs and Excise and the Armed Services (British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy).