News Input by Kamal Prabhakar UK Head Hello Mumbai News :
Corporal Pardeep Kaur was born in Bopa Rai, Jalandhar Punjab and arrived in UK in 2007 where she worked in beauty salon until 2009 when she then decided to join the British Army. In this interview Cpl Kaur tells us about what has inspired her and her Army career so far: “I was inspired by my ancestors who have fought in World War 1 and 2. I wanted to continue this legacy to serve this country with loyalty and pride. After completing my initial phase 1 and 2 training (Army basic training which takes you from being a civilian to a soldier), I was posted to North Luffenham with the 16th Regiment Royal Artillery as a Chef.
In 2012, I was assigned to the Diversity Action Recruiting Team (DART). I spent a year promoting the Army visiting schools, universities, community events and sharing my lived experience about being in Army. As part of the DART, I also had a chance to learn about other religions and other cultures. Our main aim was to promote and change people’s perception about the Army. We delivered presentations to the JNCO (Junior Non-Commissioned Officers) and the Senior CLM (Command Leadership Management) course about different religions and cultures within the British Army. This assignment made me strong person and enhanced my knowledge of individuals from other backgrounds. I took pride in my work and was very passionate about the Army and had an opportunity to visit No 10 Downing Street and meet the Prime Minister.
After my tour with the DART team, I was posted to the Household Cavalry Regiment, Windsor in the Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess as the Second in Command. On promotion to Lance Corporal I was posted to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in Aldershot where I always on the move with the Battalion.
In 2015 I had the opportunity to visit Kenya on Exercise Askari Storm and Exercise Silver Arrow in Latvia feeding the troops and ensuring that the meals were up to the highest standards. The hours were long, I used to be up at 0500hrs and make sure breakfast was ready by 0700hrs for all the military personnel. I gained a lot of experience as it was one of the hardest challenges that I had faced in my role as a chef and my first exercise outside the UK.
In 2016 and 2017 I was deployed to Kenya, working in a hot environment, I found the role very demanding and challenging including working with the Locals, it was a great experience for me. I had the opportunity to learn a bit of Swahili to help my communication with the locals who found it amusing. The highlight of my time in Kenya was the opportunity to go on Adventure Training where I participated in mountain biking, hill walking and kayaking all wonderful experiences. I have also deployed to Jersey to support the Army Swimming Team for a week to support as their chef.
In July 2018, I then deployed to Op TRENTON 5, ( a UN Peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) in South Sudan) as part of the UK Engineering group with 36 Engr Regt, building a Level 2 Hospital for the civilians. I was part of a small team of chefs and was Shift JNCO in charge of the junior chefs within the kitchen area. It was an austere and remote location with difficult lines of communication and logistical challenges. Food replenishment was difficult at times and especially during rainy season due to means of transport being only via air freight. There were times where I needed to use my own innovation and come up with the solution to provide the best menus for the whole Task Force with a minimum choice of food supplies available there. I also organised a charity Cake event for the MacMillan Cancer support and raised over £400 with the support of other nations, who were also serving in South Sudan.
In my free time I used to visit the Indian Battalion temple to practice my faith with the other nations, who were also part of the UNMISS. I felt so honoured and privileged to meet military personnel from the Indian Army where my roots lie.
I found this tour very Challenging and interesting, getting up at early hours and working till late at nights. We had visitors from MPs, journalists and the Secretary state of Defence the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE. It was a great tour, working in hot climate conditions. My hard work was noticed, and the outstanding efforts were cited by the Commanding Officer early in the tour with the award of a Task Force Commander’s Coin and thereafter a the formal award of a Brigade Commander’s Commendation by Commander 8 Brigade during his visit to theatre. I was also touched and honoured to receive my first Operational medal. Overall, it was a magnificent tour that allowed me to work with different nations, learning and sharing from each other and gaining a lot of experience for future tours and in my day to day job.
I am a keen runner and like to maintain my high level of fitness against a very busy daily work routine. Recently I have taken part in a variety of sporting events, including the award of a medal for 1st placed female on the Indian Independence Day run involving over 200 runners in South Sudan. I am proud of myself with the things that I have achieved like a charity run for Frimley Heath hospital in Wrexham, took part in indoor cycling supporting the SSAFA, Cross country for 5 Division where I won the Gold medal in women’s team event and silver medal as a runner up . I have also won a medal for the London District Cross country (Major Unit Team Winners). I have competed twice in the Fleet marathon and won a Gold medal in Taekwondo placed 1st in poomsae.
In 2019, I was promoted to Corporal and was posted to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh in Tidworth as Production Supervisor Chef. Whilst I have been in the Battalion, I have been on deployed on numerous Exercises overseas and within the UK. In 2020 I was awarded the Commanding Officer Coin for my outstanding and hard work during the exercise in Germany.
During the COVID-19 lockdown I managed to run/achieved a full marathon within my 6 meter patio over two days to help raise money for the NHS East Ambulance Service and raised £132O . I also represent the Armed Forces by doing virtually live cooking sessions with various celebrity chefs from India and MasterChef semi-finalist and finalist from UK in my spare time. I am very passionate and enjoy sharing my knowledge about cooking and gaining experience from other chefs are my strongest point about my job and profession.
I am also a YouTube blogger where I share my recipes, fitness with other people. My Goal is to inspire people including our youngsters those who cannot cook via this perfect platform where I get to show my cooking skills and different cuisines.
I have recently launched my first ever cookbook called ‘Recipes from My Kitchen’.
I am a single mother of 7-year-old child. As an Asian female, serving in the British Army I feel very proud and honoured in the things that I have achieved, I would encourage our males and females to come and speak to me about my ‘Lived Experience’ and hear what is it like have a wonderful career.
To sum up I am immensely proud to serve my country and if I was to describe the Army in one word, it would be Family.
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YouTube Channel: Journey with Chef Kaur Pardeep