Pte Philip Woolridge (right) and Cpl Donovan Ratteray explain the modern Bermuda Regiment to potential volunteers. *Photo supplied
Pte Philip Woolridge (right) and Cpl Donovan Ratteray explain the modern Bermuda Regiment to potential volunteers. *Photo supplied
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A special recruitment night aimed at drumming up volunteers for the Bermuda Regiment was last night hailed a success.

Around 30 people attended the event at Government House – the first of its kind – to hear first hand from serving soldiers the benefits of joining up.

Corporal Dononvan Ratteray, 29, a compliance officer with HSBC, from Sandys, said he was conscripted in 2007 – and enjoyed the experience so much he stayed on.

Cpl Ratteray told the group of potential soldiers, parents and employers: “It’s assisted me in my day job with time management and prioritization – what has to be done fast and what can wait.

“These are things that get ingrained in you at Warwick Camp.”

Cpl Ratteray said that he had trained in Jamaica twice and to the US Marines’ Camp Lejeune in North Carolina during his time as a soldier.

He added: “Each trip provided me with a new experience, a new perspective and new skills I learned. These skills I use today, in civilian life and the Regiment.

“It helps you progress in life and makes you a better citizen – apart from that, it’s fun. It really is fun.”

Private Philip Woolridge, 22, a mechanic from Paget, said: “It’s my first year in the Regiment and I’m having a blast.

“There is not a day you go there and you don’t crack jokes. And you get opportunities to do things you could never do anywhere else.”

He admitted: “I was conscripted and I didn’t want to go and I spoke to some other guys and they all said the same thing. Now I think it’s an amazing thing to do and the pay is very good. The Regiment is there for your advantage. If you want to volunteer, just go for it and don’t listen to anyone else.”

After listening to soldiers’ experiences and watching a video on life in the Regiment, potential recruits said they were even more keen to join the island’s only armed service.

Potential recruit Kaje Matthie, 18, who works in IT, said he had plans to become a professional soldier.

He added: “I was already influenced – but the presentation opened my mind to what is there. I came here to see what really goes on in the Regiment and the presentation showed me. I’m really excited – I wish recruit camp was this month, not next January.”

Tahj Augustus, 23, from Hamilton, a warehouse worker with MarketPlace, said: “I’ve always liked the idea of the army and adventure – I thought it was time to get into it.

“I’m definitely more encouraged. It looked like something I’m really going to enjoy. I have done a year at college as well and I want to go back – the Regiment is a good way to put some dollars in my pocket to improve my education.”

At a drinks reception after the presentation, Regiment Commanding Officer Lt Col Michael Foster-Brown said: “It went very well. People seemed very enthusiastic and I hope they tell their friends.

“I’m delighted to share the good word about the Regiment – we not only produce good soldiers, we produce good citizens as well.

“There is still a lot of ill-informed comment about the Regiment and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to give a more accurate picture of what the modern Regiment is all about.”

The night, to be followed by recruitment nights on at Warwick Camp on Tuesday October 1 and Thursday, October 3, is aimed at boosting the number of volunteers in the Regiment prior to the likely end of conscription.

Governor George Fergusson, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Regiment, said: “In the time that I’ve been here I’ve been very impressed by the Regiment doing the things it does, but I’ve also been impressed by the enjoyment and camaraderie that people in the Regiment have.

Mr Fergusson added that service to the community was “high and noble” and worthwhile.

But he said: “If you can have fun doing it, that’s the kind of thing that gets you out of your bed on a Saturday morning to do things with the Regiment.”

And Mr Fergusson added he had many soldiers who had started as conscripts – but volunteered to stay on past their official leaving date.

Anyone who has not already been called up for Regiment duty - or who will be this year - and who is a Commonwealth citizen resident in Bermuda can volunteer for service.

Men and women aged between 18-45 are eligible to volunteer. All applicants will be vetted by the Bermuda Police Service and will be drug tested.

A Regiment career offers recruits opportunities to travel, acquire skills useful in civilian life, test themselves to their limits and competitive rates of pay, as well as a $300 bounty for new volunteers. For more information, call 238-1045 or visit www.bermudaregiment.bm .