It is with excitement and honour that we can now officially announce that, after what seems a very long process, Alistair has been offered a Commission in the British Army as a Chaplain (or in Army-speak – Padre).
Over the past few years, since handing on the church in Arbourthorne, Sheffield, Alistair has been serving as Sports Chaplain at Sheffield United Football Club (SUFC), running Swimyourswim (an open water swimming company – our ‘tent making’ ministry!), and the occasional preach here and there.
However, as a direct result of the chaplaincy work within SUFC, Alistair began to feel a call to serve as Chaplain in the Army, and so began the process of applying to join the Army, which has included a whole host of assessments and interviews – including the infamous Army Officer Selection Board, which he passed in July this year.
We have been ever so grateful for the support of our close friends as we have been on this journey – it has been a long one and one that has been up in the air over the last few years as the seemingly endless process of medicals, tests, and assessment weeks have left us in ‘no mans lands’ and unable to communicate clearly to all of you.
However, we are, literally this week, about to embark on the next chapter of our adventure as Alistair begins his training on Monday 4th September!
On Monday, Alistair begins a three week Chaplaincy Foundation course with the Royal Army Chaplaincy Department (RAChD), based at Amport House near Andover. This will culminate on 21st September with a Commissioning Service with the Chaplain General.
As a Padre in the British Army, Alistair will hold the rank equivalent to a Captain, and as such, will be attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) for an eight week Professionally Qualified Officers course. To be ready for this Alistair has been in training to reach the required fitness levels – so his Channel swimming training has finally come into purpose!
After Sandhurst, and the Passing Out parade at the end of November, Alistair will be assigned to a Regiment and could be posted anywhere, at anytime. At this stage we are not aware which Regiment Alistair will be posted to, but for the foreseeable Alistair will be with the Army ‘married-unaccompanied’ – in essence this mens him ‘commuting’ between home in Sheffield and his appointed base. This coming year Joseph will be taking his GCSEs, and so we felt that there should be good stability for him and his studies. For this reason, Caroline and the children will be remaining in Sheffield, whilst Alistair will be based at his Unit, and commute home when possible. Mind you, as a Padre, we are fully aware that where the soldiers go, the Padre goes. So, this could mean Alistair being deployed overseas for training or actual operations/war if that is required. The role of Padre involves front-line work as well as the behind the scenes pastoral work in ‘safer’ environments.
We hope to find out which Regiment Alistair will be assigned to in the next few weeks, and we’ll try to keep you up to date with our new adventure in our newsletters.