Sally Simpson speaks to Salahudeen Hussain
A teenage Royal Marines cadet from Sheffield has said he hopes a better understanding of the stories of Muslim heroes in the British military will inspire more Asian youngsters to join up, as he prepares for a leading role in this year’s remembrance ceremonies.
Salahudeen Hussain, 16, is thought to be the youngest person to complete the gruelling Special Forces selection march known as the Fan Dance, in the Brecon Beacons, when he was 15.
Now Sal is preparing to be installed as the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet, a role which will involve him accompanying the Queen’s representative in South Yorkshire, including during the ceremonies to mark Remembrance Day in his home town of Sheffield.
The cadet corporal is hoping to join the Royal Marines Reserve as an officer, and pass selection for the elite SBS Reserves, when he begins a degree in medicine after his sixth form studies at Birkdale School, in Sheffield. And he is considering applying to join as a regular officer in the future.
Sal said he has developed a keen interest in Muslim winners of the Victoria Cross (VC) medal and believes their stories would inspire youngsters if they were more widely known.
“I’ve had to do lot of digging myself,” he said.
Sal said: “I know a lot of young Muslim and Asian people in this country often feel a kind of a disconnect to things like the military.
“But I know that, if everyone knew how involved their ancestors and people like them were, they would want to join up and wouldn’t feel like they couldn’t.”
Sal joined the Sheffield detachment of the Royal Marines Cadets in 2018 as he began to study for his GCSEs.
He said: “I’d been bullied quite badly and I wasn’t really in a good spot but my dad found out about the cadets and he approached me about the idea.
“I didn’t want to go, I just hated it. It was vastly outside of my comfort zone. But he sat me down and told me I was free to decide between going and going, so I decided to go.
“And, honestly, it was the best decision I ever made. The opportunities it has opened up for me have been immense.”
Sal is due to be formally appointed to his role as the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet in a ceremony at Sheffield’s Endcliffe Hall, on Thursday.
And he is planning another fundraising adventure after his Fan Dance achievement earlier this year raised more than £6,500 for his cadet unit and SBSA (Special Boat Service Association).
Sheffield detachment commander, Sgt John Daley, praised Sal for his work to highlight the contribution of Muslim soldiers and said it was an important element of recruitment.
“I think he’s bringing it to the forefront,” he said. “It’s massively important that we remember people from across all society, and different backgrounds, who have supported Great Britain through the toughest times.
“I think it’s forgotten quite a lot.”