When 66-year-old Rodney Gurney, of Tewkesbury, stepped up to receive the Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire’s Certificate for Meritorious Service from Dame Janet Trotter DBE, it was not a new experience.
The presentation ceremony to the Gloucestershire Air Training Corps Flight Lieutenant at Allied Rapid Reaction Corps headquarters in Gloucester came no less than 29 years after he was awarded exactly the same honour – for a decade of dedicated work with the Army Cadet Force!
It’s a double that very few will have achieved.
Rodney has spent much of his professional life wearing one uniform or another. It all began with nine years as a Regular in The Gloucestershire Regiment. His career progressed to 22 years as a police officer. And he’s still working – as a West Mercia Police Community Support Officer.
The transfer from ACF to ATC after ten years’ service occurred in 1984 and began a long association with Tewkesbury-based 785 Squadron, where he progressed from civilian instructor to Flight Lieutenant and Commanding Officer. He was also CO of the ATC Squadron at Bishops Cleeve.
From 2008, he became a Staff Officer and Squadron Leader with the Bristol & Gloucestershire Wing of the ATC, continuing until it was time to step down at 65. But true retirement was never on the cards. With the Tewkesbury unit going through hard times, he volunteered to take command once again and has seen a young Squadron begin to rebuild successfully.
Cadets include two of his four grandchildren – 17-year-old Shannon Ashley and her sister Caitlin, aged 14.
Both girls are involved in the Wing Band, which, for good measure, Rodney also runs, in addition to continuing a lead role for the Wing in radio and communications and health and safety.
“The vast majority of today’s youngsters are good kids,” he says. “Unfortunately, it’s the tiny minority who get into bother that get all the press.
“A while ago, my wife Barbara and I tried working out how many Cadets we’ve known over the years, many of them going on to become senior officers in the Royal Navy, Army or RAF. We stopped counting at 2,000!”
The Lord-Lieutenant’s awards are made annually and recognise the unstinting service of individual members of the Reserves and of the Cadet organisations in the county.
The ceremony also included the appointment of ten young people as the Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadets for the next year, part of their role being to accompany her on official engagements. They were chosen on their merits within their respective Cadet forces, but also for their dedication and work within the local community.