Simon Kendall may have left the military a decade ago but that sense of duty and longing to serve has never left him.
From volunteering as an adult instructor with his local Army Cadet Force to being part of the nationwide voluntary Blood Bikes scheme, the 36-year-old is always one of the first to step forward.
So when the pandemic struck it saw Simon volunteer both locally in Bynea, Llanelli, using his motorbike to help deliver essentials to the needy and with the national Team Rubicon UK Op RE:ACT to Covid-19, to help create Cardiff’s Dragon’s Heart Hospital.
“Every conflict has a different challenge and as an ex-soldier I couldn’t sit back and drink cider in my garden and let others do the work when I could volunteer and do my bit,” said Simon, a lorry driver and dad-of-three.
“Once you’ve been a soldier, it stays in your blood and you keep the mentality of ‘let’s just get the job done’,” said Simon, who grew up in a military family and joined the Royal Artillery from school at 16.
With tours in Cyprus and Afghanistan under his belt he left the Armed Forces a decade ago.
“Once you have served, you simply cannot take a step backwards – it is often soldiers or ex-soldiers that will put their hand up in civilian life to get the job done,” said Simon who is a Sergeant Instructor with the Dyfed and Glamorgan ACF.
That means that even in lockdown, he will be at his computer on zoom calls with his cadets a couple of nights a week, as activity in the virtual world stepped up replacing face-to-face activity.
“The Cadet Force is such a brilliant organisation as it offers such a lot of variety of different experiences for youngsters and gives them such a sense of purpose and achievement,” said Simon.
“Everyone comes on a level playing field and it is fantastic to see how even the most shy of youngsters will thrive and grow in confidence thanks to the opportunities on offer.”
For now though, like so many others, Simon is looking forward to life after lockdown but will be ready for whatever challenges life throws at him or that he goes looking for through his volunteering activity.
He could be called upon by Team Rubicon to work on further projects after spending a week as part of the manpower team that helped transform Cardiff’s Principality Stadium into the Dragon’s Heart Hospital.
As part of Blood Bikes, he is one of a nationwide network of volunteers that provides a free courier service to the NHS delivering blood samples, plasma, documents and other items all over the country.