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At the age of 10 Owen and his two brothers and two sisters were taken into the care system and found a foster family, with whom he still lives, alongside two of his brothers. He has been in the same foster placement ever since.
He says, “When I went into care, I remember being shocked at how calm it was. My foster parents were caring and not too strict. Most of all I was amazed that some people really cared about me. This made me feel quite down in a strange way, but I refused to see counsellors, I was going to solve all my problems myself.”
Owen’s secondary school time passed without much excitement, but school didn’t hold anything for him, and he was very disillusioned. He refused to engage with counselling to help with the trauma of his earlier neglect and abuse and decided to deal with things himself – not always successfully.
He says, “I didn’t do well at school as I didn’t want anyone to think I was nerdy, but it turns out I was quite good at PE and Catering. I got a Saturday job in a pub kitchen and realised I was actually good at working”.
Proving to himself that he could do a good job, Owen then thought about pursuing a career as a chef. When he left school with one GCSE in PE he applied to the army. He was advised to go on a pre-military course which led him to signing up for a Traineeship programme with North Wales Training. The Military Awareness Course is designed to give learners an insight to military life and prepares and supports their application to the Armed Forces.
Each morning he got up at 6:15am and travelled to Kinmel Camp on his own, on the train for over an hour, not returning home until after 6pm every day. His nominator, Martin Craven says, “At first, Owen was very shy and lacked confidence. He found the early days hard but was developing resilience and determination. He made friends with others on the course and after talking with some Welsh Guards who assisted on the programme, he decided he wanted to be in the infantry and once he had that focus there was no turning back.”
When Owen arrived on the course, it was obvious that fitness training was an area he really enjoyed and put everything he had into it, coming in the top 4 learners on the course. He didn’t miss a single day in nine months and the staff could see his self-confidence and self-discipline grow. He completed the Level 1 BTEC Award in Workskills and passed selection to go to the Army Foundation College at Harrogate on the first attempt. He is looking to join the Welsh Guards and embark on a new chapter in his life.
“I began to realise I was good at work things and could do a decent job. I became so much more confident so applied to the Army properly and was asked to go to selection – I passed first time! I think I am going to do really well.”