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‘I am one of the lucky ones’: Inspirational Dundee Army veteran forges new career

Army Veteran Derek Roy.
Derek Roy.

Derek Roy recognises he is an outlier for making such a seamless transition into Civvy Street.

In 2012 Dundee man Derek, 52, left the Army after 26 years. Four days later he began a role at DC Thomson-owned BrightSolid as facilities and data manager – a role he retains to this day.

“I hear these stories about how tough people find it after leaving the Army but I must be the luckiest person going!”

Now he is a finalist in the Outstanding Achiever category in this year’s Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards.

Fellow Dundonian Andy Farquhar also has been shortlisted in the Advocate of the Year category of the same awards.

‘I thought it didn’t suit my personality’

Derek is a third-generation Army serviceman.

He was three years old when his father Dallas signed up, which led to the family relocating from Fowlis to Germany.

Derek Roy.
Derek Roy.

But Derek joining the Army himself was not a foregone conclusion.

“I never really wanted to join the military,” he says. “It was in my face all the time and I thought it didn’t suit my personality.

“I have always been outspoken and I didn’t think that would be right for the military.

“But when I turned 16 there were very few options for me in Germany and one of those was joining the military.

“I thought I would join it for the least amount of time to get a stepping stone out of Germany and stand on my own two feet.”

Service at Gulf War

Derek was pleasantly surprised by life in the Army.

By the second year he felt he could “express myself a lot more” and soon “met some fantastic blokes I am still very close to now”.

His tours included Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, Kosovo and also five years in Germany.

He became an airborne soldier – “a fantastic achievement” – and was promoted to corporal rank.

‘I wanted to settle in Dundee’

There was also satisfaction in his personal life.

In 1998 he met his future wife Dawn, now 48, while on leave in Dundee.

Derek Roy and wife Dawn.
Derek Roy and wife Dawn.

“Because I had spent so little time in Dundee I always felt that I wanted to settle down here.

“Getting married settled me down from a partying life and made me more focused on my family.”

The couple are parents to Christopher, 30, Chevonne, 28, and Cailin, 21.

Cufflinks interview boost

At the time of his Army retirement in 2012 Derek was a warrant officer class one, the most senior soldier in 71 Engineer Regiment, RAF Leuchars.

Prior to leaving he applied for the role at BrightSolid and knew he had a chance when he noted the interviewer was wearing Royal Navy cufflinks.

“I left the Army and four days later I started a new role.

“It’s strange how I have spent all that time in the Army travelling but now work five minutes from where I live.

“The furthest I travel to is Aberdeen.”

‘It’s like I never left’

Derek admits that not everyone is able to forge a good career straight after leaving the Army.

This is emphasised by his presence as a finalist in the Outstanding Achiever category in the second annual Scottish edition of the Ex-Forces in Business Awards, the world’s largest celebration of veterans in second careers.

“There’s not a lot of people from the military in the environment I am in now,” he says.

“I do think about the individuals I knew who passed away or were seriously injured.

“But when I meet people from the military it’s like I never left.

“I am one of the lucky ones.”

‘He is a great role model’

The citation for his entry in the awards talks of Derek’s “inspirational” presence and his work during the lockdown.

It says: “He is a great role model for employees and always leads by example, none more so than in the fact that Derek has been working in the office during the whole of lockdown whilst Covid-19 has been ongoing.”

During this period, it says that Derek has been “going about his normal works and completing additional works ensuring that the customers can still run their business while they are unable to visit the data centres”.

It adds: “You could say that Derek is ‘just doing his job’ (this is how Derek sees it) but it’s the way that he goes about his job that makes the difference.”

Derek will discover if he has won the award at the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow’s Grand Ballroom on Thursday August 19.

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