Hi I'm Dean
My childhood dream was to fly aeroplanes - I would literally go to sleep dreaming of them. I was very fortunate to have earned an RAF Flying Scholarship but turned it down to serve a two year mission for my church. After my mission I married and felt a civilian flying career was more suited to married life so I became Cabin Crew for a local airline, hoping one day I'd get a chance to train as a pilot. Eventually my dream came true and I had the opportunity to train as a commercial pilot, qualifying in 1999. Unfortunately, I was made redundant in 2009, just after finding out our fifth child was due - talk about bursting our bubble! The next 3 years were very difficult. There was no work available to me as a pilot so I spent my time doing whatever work I could find - cleaning nursing homes; teaching assistant, shop worker and so forth. I also had a period with no work at all, which was very difficult to deal with. However, the birth of our son reminded me that life was still good. During this time, I applied for and accepted a management job working as a civilian with a military unit in Afghanistan - not quite flying! It was a very tough period but as a family we grew even closer. Shortly after returning home, I was thankfully able to get a flying job once again. In my spare time I work as a Special Constable and as the Commanding Officer for the Army Cadet Force. I have been truly blessed with a great life and believe I should give as much back to my community as I can
Why I am a Mormon
I grew up as a Mormon - my parents were both converts and met through the church - my father served as a missionary back in the 1960's. When you grow up within a faith, it is often followed somewhat blindly and without question as it is just the way you live so you don't really question whether or not it is right. However, when I was coming up to 18, I had to make the choice between serving a mission or taking up the offer of an RAF Flying Scholarship. I felt that if I was to give up my scholarship, I had to be sure of why I was doing it. Did I really believe in the way I had been raised? I quite literally stayed up all night in the living room armchair debating the pros and cons of my choices and of my religion. I prayed hard that I would know for myself what the truth was. The heavens didn't open or angels appear but nevertheless, by the time morning came, I had no doubt in my mind that the religion I had been raised in was correct and I decided to fully commit myself to it, not because it was habit, but because I believed it was true. I have never regretted giving up the scholarship for one second and the experience gained on my mission has set me up for the rest of my life. That's not to say it is easy - I'm a human being and therefore make mistakes. However, I know I can overcome those mistakes and be a better person through my faith. Knowing that I can be with my family forever, if I live to the best of my ability - I can't think of any greater blessing than that.
How I live my faith
Church life also keeps me and my family very busy, but we wouldn't want it any other way. I serve as a councilor to the current Bishop and previously served as a Bishop myself for 5 years. My wife is president of the church's women's organisation - Relief Society. She has 2 councilors to assist her but even so the workload is very high, especially with six children of our own to look after. My responsibilities involve me assisting the Bishop with his role as the leader of our congregation. That may mean attending meetings, conducting interviews, planning Sunday services, making house calls or any other manner in which I can assist him. There's never a dull moment and every experience I've had as a church leader has also benefited me in my personal and work life. Whilst it may seem that my life is very hectic and busy with church responsibilities etc., I feel that by living my faith to the best of my ability, my life has been far more richly blessed than I could ever imagine. Life has not been a bed of roses, far from it but the good times have far outweighed any of the bad and it is the challenges that have made me personally and my family stronger. At the end of the day, even when it's cloudy the sun is still shining - you just have to climb higher to find it!