Black History Month: A Time For Change

Black History Month — Powerful Stories of Amazing People

This Black History Month we celebrate black service personnel throughout history and to this day.

Follow along as we share the stories of some incredible people and their contributions to the UK’s Armed Forces.

Captain Cousland MBE

Captain Cousland MBE, was brought up on a tough housing estate in north London. The son of a single mother he never knew his father.

Life at school was a disaster. Branded a failure and a troublemaker, he didn’t learn to read until he was 12. It isn’t surprising that from a very early age he felt angry and disconnected.

“I wasn’t happy with where I was in life. I wasn’t happy with my teachers. I wasn’t happy with people telling me who I was, or what I’d become.”

He left school at 15. A year later, determined to do something that would make his mother proud, and inspired by stories of his grandfather who had been a colonel in the Royal Artillery in North Africa during the second world war, he joined the Army. Since then, he has unstintingly dedicated himself, 100 per cent, to soldiering. Looking back, he is convinced that if he hadn’t taken that important life decision, then by now he would either be dead or in prison.

As a result of his commitment, at 16 he was top of his selection board. He went on to win the gunner of the year award in his phase two training and at 18 he was the top student on his All Arms Commando course.

Capt Cousland’s talent and commitment was spotted and he was selected for officer training at Sandhurst, where he had graduated top of his class, winning the prestigious Sword of Honour award. Now a recipient of an MBE for being the architect and builder of the Defence Rastafari Network and giving them a voice.

“I am passionate about the Army. It allows you to unlock your potential and achieve your best. It is a true meritocracy, a place of real social mobility where you progress on your merits. The British Army has always been diverse, and still is. We should recognise that and celebrate it.”

Captain Cousland MBE was the first officer of Rastafarian faith in the commandos. He went on to set up the Defence Rastafari Network to help support other Rastafarians in the military.

You can find out more about the Army and the wide variety of careers that it offers here.

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Ministry of Defence

DefenceHQ is the official corporate news channel of the UK Ministry of Defence.