Major McEntee says: “You look at the country in a different way. You have come from a place of extreme poverty, where the people are so warm and grateful for any act of kindness. In contrast, you see people in the UK not being respectful or thankful for the privileges that we have.
“I make a conscious effort not to fall into that trap. I appreciate everything I have just that little bit more.”
McEntee left the army in the 1980s but remains heavily involved in the Territorial Army, committing to 120 days a year of service as an engineering officer.
In September 2007, McEntee volunteered as an officer with the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles and flew out to the multinational base in Kandahar in January this year after three weeks of intensive training.
The Battle Group oper- ated as part of Regional Command South, including the Helmand province, providing immediate reinforcements and reacting to inci- dents as they unfolded in the region.
Tensions have heightened in Afghanistan in recent months, and McEntee often found himself in the thick of it. He says: “The Battle Group saw a lot of action. They were sent into areas to provide initial infiltration. We suffered casualties but fortunately no fatalities dur- ing my period with the Battle Group.”
When the tour finished, McEntee flew home to his wife and family in the UK and began the task of readjusting to civilian life.
He is back at work with NPM Financial Management and says: “Intrinsic were incredibly supportive, assuring me that our commission rates would not suffer if there was a downturn in business and generally offering any assistance they could to ensure the practice remained stable during my absence.”
He was faced with a dramatically different business environment and says: “The market was changing just as I volunteered and I was able to watch the credit crunch unfold from a distance, almost as an impartial observer. That was helpful, in that it allowed me to keep a pragmatic view without getting involved in the day to day activity of the business.”
Looking ahead, McEntee considers it will be vital to remodel the business to stay on track but is confident that the downturn could provide an opportunity for growth. He says: “I believe there was a culture of order-taking for mortgages across the industry in recent year, and the credit crunch will put an end to that. We have to be able to advise and sell and those that can be adaptable will come out stronger.”