Like many of his generation, Sam Jeffries, 28, from Midhurst, West Sussex, has always wanted to make a real difference. A Biology degree at Bristol and a promising career in renewable energy seemed a worthy start but it took joining the Army to fulfil his driving need to actively change lives for the better.
Making A Difference
“I thought I was on the right track, but something was missing. I had a real sense of urgency and wanted to be able to get out there and make change happen.
"Sitting at a desk all day wasn’t attracting and offering me the fulfilment I’d hoped for.
“I’ve always cared about the environment and the climate crisis is an inevitable legacy for my generation, so I knew I needed to pursue a career that was different, I wanted something that would challenge me; I wanted to learn how to lead others and commit to an organisation whose mission is to make society, at home and abroad, a safer place.”
I wanted to learn how to lead others and commit to an organisation whose mission is to make society, at home and abroad, a safer place.” Captain Sam Jeffries, Number 12 Company Irish Guards
So much more
Despite only being in the Army for five years, Sam now holds the rank of Captain and is second in command of one of the most prestigious companies of infantry troops in the service.
Number 12 Company Irish Guards may be best known as the trusted guards of The King, regularly seen guarding the Royal Palaces in London and Windsor, but behind the public persona, a life in the Guards is so much more than ceremonial soft power.
Prepared for anything
As an officer, Sam is essentially a team manager, and day to day, Sam organises and carries out all the military training of his troops, from physical training to deploying on military exercises.
On exercises and deployments his soldiers could face a multitude of challenges from weather to environment.
It’s his job to prepare them to be excellent in conditions that vary from arctic to jungle, desert to mountain ranges, as well as deal effectively with operational issues on the ground, such as the evacuation of civilians, confronting enemy forces, preventing poaching of endangered wildlife, or working sensitively with local groups and calming tensions which otherwise could escalate into full blown conflict.
It's a role that demands confidence and capability but before all officers are given command, they have to pass training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst which fully prepares everyone to take responsibility for what are certainly the big issues of today.
“It’s a lot of responsibility but as an officer the autonomy you have to deliver creative, common-sense solutions is significant and hugely rewarding, because immediately you can see the success of your team’s efforts.
"And it is absolutely a team, I just prepare and then guide the soldiers, ultimately, they are the ones achieving the results face to face with the issues and people on the ground, and everyone feels a real sense of satisfaction when a task is done well.
The Big Picture
“Before I went to Sandhurst, I thought a career in the Army would be combat operations, handling weapons, all the stuff you see in the media of the Army on operations, and it has been these things, but it’s so much richer than that.
"Importantly I’ve learned how to take on the big picture and see issues in context, understanding the consequences of all we do. Developing and making the lives of your soldiers better is the most rewarding work, and then seeing them do the same for others when deployed abroad is just fantastic”, he explained.
“Key to success in this role is being a good people manager" Captain Sam Jeffries, Number 12 Company Irish Guards
“Key to success in this role is being a good people manager; the discipline to devote to looking after yourself mentally and physically so you can be there for your team and set a good example; project management; communication; cultural sensitivity and public speaking.
"Just being an all-rounded human being really, because every challenge we deal with is a man-made one so understanding people, what motivates them and what their needs are is central to how we deliver change that can be truly transformational.”
Sam’s first big deployment was to Iraq in 2019. Although it was a tough tour of duty, he has fond memories of his first 6 months as a platoon commander and the amazing friendships he forged there.
Since then, his army career has taken him to the USA, the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic and to Brunei in the Far East.
“Each experience offers something rich and unique, from the environment to the people, and it really beats working at a desk all day”, he enthused.
“The landscapes have been special, even though the environment is always working against you! But the one thing that really makes overseas deployments special is the people. I’ve been fortunate that everywhere I’ve been the people have been particularly friendly and welcoming.”
His overseas deployments have been supplemented by the honour and pride in delivering world class excellence on the ceremonial side of his job.
He was seen by audiences of billions on TV as he took part in the funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in late 2022.
In May last year, Sam and his company were turned out looking immaculate as the King’s Guard on the forecourt at Buckingham Palace at the start of The Coronation procession for King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
“It’s moments like this that really makes the job stand out”, he said. “Memories you’ll never forget, those moments when you realise, you’re part of something so much bigger than you are.”
Although Sam’s Grandfathers on both sides served in the Army in the 1940s, and his father, Paddy Jeffries, served with the Irish Guards 1977-82, it wasn’t inevitable that Sam would follow in their footsteps. “It’s a very different Army now from the one they joined”, he said.
“I liked the tradition of joining the same regiment as my dad and grandfather, and the Irish Guards is a great choice, but the work we do now is significantly different. The Irish Guards is heavily committed to peacekeeping, nation stabilisation and counter poaching operations in Africa, all at the forefront of the major crises we find in the world today”.
This ability to get hands on with the real issues of the age was certainly an influence to Sam joining the Irish Guards and the Army.
It hasn’t all been work, the Army has also allowed Sam to continue to pursue his passions of playing cricket and golf.
“The Guards have dozens of societies and actively encourage people with an interest in sport to take it further, regardless of initial ability” said Sam. Many will join a society to just “give it a go” and discover hidden talents that can set them on an incredible new path in life but can equally nurture some already found talents!
Sam says his new career path has been positively life-changing: “It has shaped me into who I am today. It has opened my eyes to the work the British Army and other armies do around the world, but more than that it has given me an amazing pool of high-quality friends that I will have for the rest of my life.”
“It has shaped me into who I am today. It has opened my eyes to the work the British Army and other armies do around the world, but more than that it has given me an amazing pool of high-quality friends that I will have for the rest of my life.” Captain Sam Jeffries, Number 12 Company Irish Guards
The Irish Guards is just one of five Foot Guards Regiments in the Army which together represent all the nations of the United Kingdom, and each has a unique dual role: one day they can be exercising the full pomp and pageantry of ceremonial duties, the next preparing for operational combat or peacekeeping roles across the globe.
The Irish Guards proudly embody the best of Irish culture, and their charm and good humour is world renowned. While they traditionally recruit from Northern Ireland and parts of the UK that are historically linked with Irish settlement such as Liverpool, you don’t have to be of Irish descent to belong! The regiment is enriched by soldiers from countries as varied as Fiji, Jamaica, Uganda, Hong Kong, Lichtenstein and Romania.
The British Army is recruiting right now to fill 10,000 jobs across the UK, with more than 200 roles to choose from, covering everything from front line combat and cyber security, to helicopter pilots, chefs and support roles. If you’re aged 16 to 50 and want to find out more about a career that will challenge everything you thought you knew about the Army and inject real purpose into your life, click here