The broad swathe of responsibilities falling on the shoulders of the 214th Deputy Constable of Dover Castle was explained to Rotarians when Brigadier Matt Bazeley, Commandant of the Royal School of Military Engineering, was our distinguished guest speaker. Introduced by Rotarian Brian Flood, Brigadier Bazeley indicated that following the reorganisation of the army in recent years his base is at Brompton Barracks Chatham where he oversees two cadet regiments in training covering some 18 trades but his responsibility is spread far and wide as he is responsible for the combat training facility in Camberley, an explosive munitions school in Bicester, a dog training facility in Melton Mowbray, the Kneller Hall Royal Military School of Music at Whitton in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the eclectic mix also included a centre for bacteriological warfare.
He explained new recruits are trained in trades as well as various army activities and expect to join a regiment within twelve months. The training is undertaken in a sophisticated manner using new technology in teaching methods and interactivity. The recruits are varied in ability and nature and, as with civil aspects of youth life, the army has to cater for social problems such as those caused by drink and drugs but the training regime places a significant emphasis upon physical training. He regretted the fact that only a very low percentage of women became army cadets generally and in the Royal Engineers specifically. He fielded many questions from his audience after his talk.
Matt Bazeley grew up in Buckinghamshire, was schooled in Scotland and finished his education with an Economics honours degree in London. Since joining the army in 1992 and commissioned into the Royal Engineers his deployments have included Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Africa and Afghanistan (Helmand province) as well as Ministry of Defence programmes. He became the Commandant in 2016 and Deputy Constable of Dover Castle. Married to Becci they have two boys. He has been a keen sportsman all his life particularly enjoying rugby, cricket and skiing. He is a Governor of the Duke of York’s Royal Military School in Dover and is President of the Committee of Friends of Dover Castle.
At the same meeting, a cheque was presented to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The four local Rotary Clubs from Dover and Deal together with the two Inner Wheel Clubs (Dover and Deal) and the Interact Club and Rotakids combined in December to present a Christmas Celebration in the historic church of St Mary in Castro. For the event the venue was packed – just under 300 people attending – requiring a large quantity of extra chairs being brought into the church and, in addition to the various clubs, members of the general public attended in good numbers. The service element of the event, which was put together by Past President of the Dover and South Foreland Clubs Revd Peter Sherred and his wife Mary, included a voluntary retiring collection in favour of the RNLI which has resulted in the Walmer and Dover Lifeboat stations benefiting to the tune of £400 each.
The combined cheque was presented to Roger Blown Chairman of Walmer Lifeboat and James Clapham, Coxswain of Dover Lifeboat, by President of the Dover Rotary Club Dave Smith on Thursday (1st February) on behalf of all member clubs of the Rotary family. Dave Smith had indicated “the Christmas Celebration was way above my expectations and my wife Judith and I enjoyed every moment. It was indeed a spectacular end for my first six months and fitting for the occasion, an evening we will never forget”.