I joined the Sea Cadet Corps at 14, and decided a career in the Royal Navy was what I aspired to. Well, initially I wanted to be in charge of HMS Victory, but as it transpired that duty fell to the First Sea Lord as his flagship. I was a member of the Sea Cadets, based at RNAS Yeovilton from 2014-2011 as both a cadet and staff member. I can wholly advise every teenager to join. I got to sail, fly planes, shoot guns, fly in Sea Kings, complete my D of E, take part in the Trafalgar 200 celebrations (including standing on Nelson's Column in full dress uniform for the national parade) and being posted on HMS Nottingham at Spithead for the International Fleet Review to 'make ship and cheer' for the Queen as she sailed past. I was away with cadets most weekends and school holidays and it made me who I am today. I'm so much more confident for having joined and got so much out of it.
With probably 80% of my university essays I managed to find a way to get a naval or maritime angle on it, and continued to do so with my dissertation title on The Implementation of Counter Piracy Policies in the Gulf of Aden. Even whilst writing this I wanted to run away to sea, but as the end of university came, and I started getting my dissertation down on paper, I realised it wasn't for me and I wanted to work for the UN.
1. Sent off my application form, expecting not to hear anything back, but I did.
2. Next stage was an 'on the spot' general knowledge test over the phone.
3. Then I headed to Bristol for another chat, interview and questions, including one where I had to give a fact about Nelson that many people, or at least those not interested in naval history, would not know.
4. Then they made their decision and I was off to the BBC in Manchester for the live episode filming. By the time you reach this stage it is the quarter finals, so that was an achievement in itself.
I came last out of the 4 I was on with, I had a meltdown on national tv and sweated more than anyone should sweat. I knew the answer to every question I was asked, but could I remember them when asked on the spot? Of course not...
Still, I did it. It's something for the CV and always something of interest that people pick up on.
In conclusion, I think I'll always be a massive naval history buff, and one day I hope to write a book, but when I have a lot more spare time than I currently do!