Former LCAES Youthreach Learner Private Mark Corbett
A Lifelong Learning Success Story

Private Mark Corbett gives an insight into how participating on the Youthreach Programme helped him gain the skills and confidence needed to progress in education and training and in his career.    He outlines many of the highlights he has experienced in learning and working over the years.

“I left secondary school when I was 15. This was because I really didn’t like school. I was still very young and all I wanted to do was to join the army like my father. My parents made me go back to school and by law, I had to. This is when I started in Youthreach.  I went on to do my Junior Cert and my Leaving Cert there. I was happy that I went to Youthreach, classes were much smaller in size and teachers were really helpful. Youthreach offered us lots of activities during the summertime such as swimming, soccer tournaments and rock climbing. The 5-aside soccer tournaments were my favourite. We always tried to bring home the trophy so there was great dedication to winning!

I was always very quiet in school, the type of person who would always keep to himself. But having joined Youthreach, I gained so much confidence. I made many friends in Youthreach, many of whom I work with in the army. We are still very close and back each other up when help is needed. One person whom I will never forget is Joe Lyons. He is the caretaker in LCAES and he was like a big brother to me. He always gave me good advice and put me on the straight run. I always looked up to him. He got me involved in the Naval Reserve. This is an organisation which helped me go forward and get myself a career in the Military. Here, I gained experience going out to sea for a number of weeks with the Navy and learning the life of a sailor. Training for this required me to attend every Wednesday night, learning many new skills. I spent five years doing this and it gave me very useful experience as well as new friends and the opportunity to earn some money.

When I left Youthreach, I went working for a company called Ire-Tex, a product supplier for Dell. From there, I got my license to drive forklifts and rigs and I became a forklift driver. Large trucks that arrived every hour had to be loaded and unloaded so it was a race against time to get the job done!

My father was in the army so with that background, I developed a strong interest in it as a career for myself. I did some research on it when I was in Ire-Tex. The army offers a lot of opportunities – working with large numbers of people, getting to travel overseas and doing really good courses. When you are not involved in operations, you are training constantly to maintain current skills, to become proficient with new equipment and in particular, to become able to adapt to changing environments. I have always been very active and played a lot of sports. You can continue that all the way through your army career because you can play a wide range of sports in the army. There is one word I’ve always liked, and that word is “CHALLENGE”.  The army offers a lot of challenges such as cross-country running and many more activities. The army keeps me on my toes and has given me a healthy lifestyle and I’m really proud of it.

I’ve had many highlights, but my main one was my first trip overseas to Chad which is the 5th largest nation in Africa. Poverty is high and there are many social and health issues. It has a population of 11.5 million. The weather was extremely difficult to get used to as it was always hot. I was drinking at least 8 litres of water a day. Chad was like another world. It really opened my eyes to how other people survived there. People can’t just turn on a tap and have nice clean water. They would have to travel miles to a well to draw water then carry it all the way back. They don’t have transport like we do. They depend on donkeys and camels to get around. I learned a lot from my travels in Africa and I would love to return sometime in the future.

My other highlight would be my training as a recruit. I had to train for 16 weeks with 53 others. The army means a lot to me.  I have completed nearly four years service and I have learned many skills. In the next two years I hope to do an NCO course and when I complete this I will then go on to train new recruits. We are like a large family; working together and helping each other. We share experiences that we will never forget.

Private Mark Corbett
Former Youthreach Learner


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