October 31st 2017

“Joining Lincolnshire ACF has made me a better person”

Cadet Jones Abbey Detachment Lincs ACF (4)

Cadet Corporal Owen Jones on stage

A cadet from Lincolnshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) has given an insight into his four-year cadet career to date, and why he is humbled and proud of what he has achieved in what have been extremely difficult times for him personally.

Cadet Corporal Owen Jones, aged 17 years, originally joined Lincolnshire ACF’s Abbey Detachment in 2013 as he wanted to try a new activity that would lead on to him meeting new friends in his community.

Owen explained: “In 2003, I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, which is a social and communicative learning difficulty. This single-handedly changed my life for the better. There is no cure for my condition, and my parents had been told I would never have any relationships, friendships nor receive a legitimate education and generally be deprived from any form of independence whatsoever. However, 14 years later, I proved thousands of people wrong, in several different ways.

“When I was seven, I first listened to ‘Till I Collapse’ by Eminem and Nate Dogg. This got me into rap music, which changed my life and has become my burning passion for the past 10 years. Army Cadets plays an equally important part of my life as well, and the two of them together provide my biggest outlets outside of home and education.”

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Cadet Jones

By the time Owen turned 13 years-old, he had tried a number of different hobbies such as Cubs, swimming and horse-riding but for one reason or another these activities didn’t prove to be interesting enough.

Explaining how his ACF adventure began, Owen said: “I recognised my autism got in the way of me doing certain things. Lincolnshire ACF opened its doors to me in September 2013, and this shy, gullible, wannabe entertainer went down in history as the founding cadet of Abbey Detachment.

“The months went by and I started to learn more about the core values and standards of the ACF, what we do and, more importantly, friendships and socialising, which eventually led to me passing basic training. It felt like I was learning more than I ever had before.”

In 2015, Owen’s life was turned upside down both at home and at school but once again he felt the ACF was a positive outlet he could rely on. He continued: “The year began with the unexpected death of my dad when I was just 14-years-old. We were all deeply shocked and a massive hole had been left in our family. Just weeks later, a teacher at my school also lost his life after being involved in a road traffic accident. Apart from growing closer to my friends and family, I had cadets as a crutch to lean on, turning up to the detachment just days after my dad had passed away. However, out of something tragic grew something positive.”

Owen received the first ever Abbey Detachment Staff Choice Award at an awards event that year, so he explained this empowered him to try to do something good for people less fortunate than himself.

Speaking about his charitable efforts he explained: “I started to grow my hair for charity in order for it to be shaved off in front of hundreds of people at school to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. I will always remember that day as the best day of my life, I performed a rap and raised over £660 for my cause.”

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Standing on his own two feet

Forever positive, Owen has continued to power through a number of things since 2015 including his GCSEs in 2016 and the passing of one of his close friends earlier this year.

Concluding what the ACF means to him, Owen said: “Joining Lincolnshire ACF has made me a better person. I am proud of how far I have come and I hope my family, detachment mates and absent friends are too.

“The ACF has become part of my life. I’ve met some incredible people, made bonds stronger than family, had some wonderful experiences, hugged, laughed, cried, marched (a lot) and achieved some amazing things.

“It goes without saying that cadets, along with rap music, family and my faith in God have been a great support. Seeing friends and staff at the detachment was one of the things that has helped me to stand back up on my own two feet.”

“Joining Lincolnshire ACF has made me a better person. I am proud of how far I have come and I hope my family, detachment mates and absent friends are too."