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I worked with Hughie when I was Chaplain to 1 R IRISH from Sept 16 to Sept 18. During this time he was firstly Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, then Regimental Sergeant Major for the battalion. For me two things stood out about Hughie Benson. Firstly his leadership ability; he is a natural leader and was respected by absolutely everyone in the battalion from the most junior soldier to the Commanding Officer. His hard earned operational experience and strong but fair personality meant that others naturally turned to him for advice and guidance, which was always listened to. Secondly, his natural ability to empathize with the soldiers in his charge. Having served at every rank in the battalion Hughie understood the pressures faced by many of the junior soldiers. He was always a listening ear ready to give solid help and direction to young men who needed a strong character to set them on a proper course in their careers, and indeed their lives in general.

In early 2018 the Commanding Officer identified a trend of disciplinary issues amongst a group of soldiers in the battalion. He asked Hughie and myself to deal with the matter. Mr Benson and I discussed the issue, and it was obvious to me that he had a firm grasp on the individuals involved, and what the causes of some of these problems may have been. Notably, as Regimental Sergeant Major, Hughie could have dealt with this matter in a draconian disciplinary fashion. Instead he proposed that we bring this group of soldiers together and talk to them. Which is what we did, and I personally witnessed a group of men open up to their Regimental Sergeant Major about some of the issues they were themselves facing. The trust that existed between these soldiers and Hughie was obvious, and having listened to them he came up with a number of proposals to deal with some of the matters raised. I felt that this was an excellent example of Hughie's wise head, his people skills, and his desire to get the best out of those he was working with. Notably, the disciplinary issues with that group ceased after Hughie took this approach. Had this matter been approached differently, I am sure that the outcome would not have been as satisfactory.

It was a privilege to serve with Hughie albeit for only two years. I personally learned a lot from him, and I'm proud to count him as a trusted friend.


Pheniks Division

What are you waiting for?? Pheniks have worked with Whysup delivering training that is second to none. Ensuring the group is engaged and keeping interest at all times. We have also been lucky enough to have Hughie (Shoei) deliver sessions for the young people we work woth and he has been an asset. His approach and experience has been used to deliver a message in some of the most challenging environments. Be it field work or class rooms pheniks can help!

The team work and communication exercises always amaze me, in a very short space of time a group turns into a team of people working together!



Give it a go as Shoei is a great teacher and coach.

He helps coach the team when playing football but he’s also good to go to get some advice.



I would hold the founder of Pheniks Division in the highest regard. His extensive experiences both military and civilian gives him the ability to empathise with individuals. He epitomises the army’s core values with specific attention to selfless commitment, putting others and their needs before his own. If you are looking for a professional, diligent and conscientious organisation to work with then look no further than Pheniks Division and in particular the founder Hughie Benson.

As a young private soldier Hughie Benson was to be my section commander on a course which would see me potentially become a Junior Non Commissioned Officer. Prior to the start I was nervous of both my ability and my knowledge. From day one Hughie communicated with me in a way in which brought out the best of me. He taught me how to lead, administrate and command a section within an infantry battalion. Because of Hughie I finished the course as one of the best candidates and went on to become an instructor myself at the infantry battle school, all the time remembering the qualities I observed whilst on my Junior NCO cadre from the most professional persons I had the privilege of being a student of.



If it’s a Job that Hughie has chosen, it is a worth while job and looking at it and the work that is being done, very rewarding. 

If there is a place in 2028 for me, I would be happy to join the team.



Hughie is committed and passionate - a real role model for young people in any circumstance. Through his army career he has gained a wealth of experience in the development and empowerment of young people in challenging situations, and is highly recommended.



Have not worked with Pheniks Division, but have worked along side Hughie, who in my view is an excellent leader of men and someone who I hold in very high regard and who I looked to and admired. A fantastic bloke.



Shoei has made a successful career out of putting others before self in the harshest and most demanding theatres of operations this generation. Having worked with Hughie on and off for over 20 years and despite us both achieving the rank of WO1 (RSM) he was and indeed is Primus inter pares.

I have many, and many unsuitable for here. But Hughie and I served as team and patrol commanders during mobile escorting operations in Baghdad and often along the now infamous route Irish. To know that Hughie was on Quick reaction force back in base ready to support if and when the shit went down was like having artillery on your side. He dug me out of many a scrap and some of them were even on the battlefield.

I’d like to take this opportunity to commend his brave venture into the unknown and remind him of a famous quote that is extra pertinent: Hughie, it is not the critic who counts. FAB Brother.



This is great opportunity for young people to understand and reach they’re full potential through learning life skills and application. Team work and individual task handling is something we all need in life and working with Pheniks division I’m sure these things would be accomplished.

Iv known Shoei a long time and iv watched over the years how he has endured hardships in his career in the army, and has always came out the other side stronger. I’m times of adversity you need leadership and this role Shoei has grabbed with both hands and carried that mantle. Through these experiences he has now brought his knowledge to civi street where I’m sure he will have a positive impact in many people’s lives. For this reason to me he’s been and inspiration and a great role model.

I know how hard it is sometimes going into the unknown but if you don’t challenge yourself you’ll never find out what your capable of. With Shoei being the driving force behind Pheniks Division I’m sure it will be nothing other than a success.



If your working Hughie in any capacity, his professionalism will inspire you.

Hughie was my section commander when I joined the army and was my regimental Sgt major when he retired from the army. His attitude remained the same for the 17 years I worked with him, which was to extract the best from you by encouraging you but also leading from the front showing how it's done.



If there were more role models like Hughie the world would be a better place.

I first met Hughie in a football changing room. I was new to Battalion and he was the first to make me feel welcome and bring me in to the team. I had no idea at the time that he was the RSM (the most senior soldier in Battalion), as there is no rank in football, and yet it was clear that he commanded the whole respect of that room with his character alone. I have since learnt a lot from him about the military and leadership but I’ll never forget the humility and respect that he showed from the most senior to the most junior.



Hughie is an excellent leader and role model. He is extremely professional yet compassionate. He goes above and beyond to get the job done to the best of his ability, whilst supporting the team around him.

I was under the command of Hughie whilst serving in the Army. We were on the front line together. His leadership, calm demeanour under pressure and camaraderie saved lives. All the soldiers under his command aspire to be like him.

Hughie has always helped others and Pheniks is an excellent way that he can channel this passion to educate and support the younger generation.



Hughie is a very experienced and confident instructor, able to deliver to a wide range of audiences. His depth of knowledge, understanding and experience of the topics he teaches makes it easy for participants to understand. He makes sessions fun by using different techniques and activities, catering for all learning styles. I have enjoyed working alongside Hughie and can genuinely say that he would be an asset to any youth organisation.


Pheniks Division

If you are considering working with Pheniks Division, do not hesitate . Shoei has lived experience but also a real world approach. He is very approachable and can work with any audience.

I’m one of the directors at Whysup and have now worked with Shoei a number of times. He’s been a breath of fresh air working with us, with the main part working in PRU schools. You can see this is more than a job to him and I’m delighted we are collaborating with someone with his skill set. More important to that we are collaborating with a good man. That’s very important to us.

Keep up the excellent work Shoei. This is only the beginning.



I worked closely as a Pl Sgt with Hughie for a number of years and can say that the care for those under him was paramount. Hughie placed a big emphasis on understanding on if soldiers were having difficulties in their private life and making sure he did what he could for that soldier, because it would have a direct impact on that soldiers well being, which was Hughie's primary concern. Hughie was and still is a people person, who loves to see people happy and content.

Hughie was the person that everyone looked up to when a soldier was seriously injured while on patrol in Afghanistan. He made sure everyone was okay after the incident by getting around, talking to the troops and looking out for those that may have been suffering. Personally I have gone to Hughie when I've had issues in my live and he has gave me sound advise and has never once been judgemental.



I have known and worked with Hughie for over 22 years on many different roles and operational environments. He has always shown utter professionalism, confidence and fine leadership ability throughout. A mentor to his men, he has always got the best from them no matter the mood by employing great nurturing and coaching skills.

I have too many stories to mention, however, the fact that Hughie reached the rank of Warrant Officer Class one, a rank only achieved by 1% of soldiers is testament enough.



I would highly recommend it as it is a very professionally run business by a professional man.

I have served until the founder of Pheniks Division. He was a very professional boss and always lead by great example.

I wish you and the business all the very best for the future.



I've worked with Hughie for 16 years and had the pleasure of serving under his command on operations, if you are looking for mentorship for yourself or youth groups there is no better man.



An organisation that understands and has lived the life experience. Bringing an understanding and knowledge in an approachable manner, which connect with the youth and elders.

Having worked with Shoie for circa 22 yrs he has the life experience that will add value.



Hughie comes highly recommended.

Many stories to tell but all that's needed to know is once you know Shoei and his team you know straight away your in safe hands.

Worked with shoie for 20 years Loyal, trustworthy, diligent, is just a few words to describe Shoei.



Hughie is a committed and determined leader with a wealth of experience and knowledge. You can be sure he will leave no stone unturned in tailoring a programme which not only meets your requirement but also has high-quality outcomes for all concerned. I would have no hesitation in recommending Hughie.

Hughie was my platoon sergeant in the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment. I learnt so much from him during my time in the military especially through his never quit approach. A strict but fair leader he undoubtedly helped instil the ethos and values of the battalion and wider military in many, including myself throughout his career.



Shoei at Pheniks Division has unrivalled experience of boosting young people’s confidence through practical training. He’s a natural communicator and quickly builds rapport with people from all walks of life. He’s one of the most dependable people that I’ve worked with during my twenty-year military career: he always delivers – and always has your back!

Shoei and I worked together closely for two years as the leadership team of a company of two hundred soldiers. He was always the consummate adviser and mentor – providing an excellent role model to junior personnel and never forgetting what it is like to be ‘at the bottom of the pile’. This approach allowed him to effectively plan and manage an annual training camp for up to three hundred personnel – helping our junior soldiers uncover their true potential and grow their confidence through learning specialist soldiering skills. His innate empathy was also key to enabling the company’s transition to a new role – he was absolutely pivotal in ensuring the commitment of our junior leaders at a time when many were daunted by the scope and scale of organisational change. Shoei’s honed leadership style, instinctive understanding and ‘can-do’ approach will be an asset to any organisation.

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