ABF The Soldiers’ Charity visited the Malpeet K9 Training Academy in South Wales in 2016, and caught up with two former soldiers who are training to become operational dog handlers, Tony Read, formerly of 4 RIFLES, and Lester Staples, a former Staff Sergeant with The Royal Army Medical Corps.
Tony Read, former Lance Corporal of 4th Battalion The RIFLES
Former Lance Corporal, Tony Read, served with 4th Battalion The Rifles in Afghanistan. During his time there, Tony was introduced to dog work through working alongside a unit, specially trained by Malpeet K9 Academy Ltd, with an explosives dog called Cracker. In the absence of Cracker’s handler, Tony and the lads from his unit assumed responsibility for performing sweeps on vehicles and personnel as they were coming in to the Patrol Base. It was this encounter that captured Tony’s enthusiasm for professional dog work and inspired his post-Army career path.
Speaking of his transition from the Army into a civilian career, Tony had the following to say: “Leaving the Army is a big step because it’s all you know. It’s security: you know you’re getting paid at the end of the month; you know who your friends are and where you’re going.”
Thanks to your donations, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity was able to pay the costs of Tony attending a General Purpose Dog Handler course. The course provided him with the foundation to switch to a new civilian career as a fully-qualified drugs dog handler; a vocation suited to his life-long and obvious love of dogs. The course has positively benefitted Tony’s prospects for future employment.
“You guys helped me with the payment to be able to let me get on with my life after service.”
The Soldiers’ Charity met Tony and his two dogs, Little Bruce and Bruce Almighty, at Malpeet K9 Academy Ltd in Wales; a company that specialises in the use of operational dog teams as well as dog handler training. The trio were taking part in training exercises- working together to identify which individual in a line-up was carrying an illegal substance. As Tony explained, this ongoing training helps keep both Bruce’s noses ‘in the game’ so they realise what substances they are picking up on when searching the streets.
Tony is very grateful to The Soldiers’ Charity for the assistance we provided, and Tony explained that without our support, he would have had to resort to financial help from his family or by other means:
“The Soldiers’ Charity input towards the monetary funds has pushed me into a world of being self-employed…You guys helped me with the payment to be able to let me get on with my life after service.”
Lester Staples, former Staff Sergeant of The Royal Army Medical Corps
Former Staff Sergeant Lester Staples served with The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in a career spanning twenty-two and a half years. During this time he completed tours in Cyprus, Iraq (Op TELIC 1 and 2) as well as being a member of the Corps Football team.
Thanks to the support of funding by Barclays, one of our corporate partners, and the advice of a Personnel Recovery Officer, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity was able to support Lester in attending a passive drug dog handlers’ course. Following his medical discharge from the Army in February 2016, this funding enabled Lester to harness his life-long love of dogs into setting out on a new career path.
We met Lester and his dog, Beans, at Malpeet K9 Academy Ltd in Wales; a company that specialises in the use of operational dog teams as well as dog handler training. The duo were training in Bridgend where they were undertaking ‘line’ work- a highly pressurised exercise for Lester and Beans as they worked together to identify which individual in the line-up was carrying an illegal substance.
“This course is going to get me on my feet with something new: hopefully a long and happy career.”
Without the assistance of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, Lester would not have been able to afford the cost of attending the sixteen-day intensive course. The alternative for Lester would have been to resort to various means of funding by taking on several jobs that were unrelated to his chosen field- an unhappy prospect for a senior soldier of over twenty two years’ service. Lester is very grateful to The Soldiers’ Charity for the help he received towards attending the course. He explained: “The help of The Soldiers’ Charity is setting me up for a new career… This course is going to get me on my feet with something new: hopefully a long and happy career, a second career.”
Lester also had some words of advice for soldiers who are also facing the prospect of leaving the Army and embarking upon a new, civilian career:
“I think that a lot of soldiers believe that they’re not worthy. I believe we have always been of that mind-set: they think they’re not worthy of help. But you are. You’ve served your time and you have done something positive for your country, so a bit of payback is well deserved.”
Find out more about the Malpeet K9 Academy, run by former soldier Simon Mallin at www.malpeetk9academy.co.uk