At the start of 2020, 1 Coy had just welcomed Chatteris Detachment to the Company and was looking forward to a busy, exciting year. Nobody could have known that our organisation, along with the country, would be tested in ways never seen before.
Once it became clear we were facing a lengthy lockdown, it was also clear that innovative measures would be needed to help ‘keep the flame alive’. Within a week of training being suspended, I was working alongside Major Morris, SMI Hockey and the Detachment Commanders to introduce virtual training so that we could continue to offer fun parade nights for everyone. Over the next few months, 1 Coy ran many virtual activities including a cake baking competition and ‘guess the adult instructor as a baby’ as well as ‘guess the adult by an unknown fact’. In June, a fantastic organisational effort by our adults enabled our pre-camp weekend to be conducted virtually. Cadets and adults slept anywhere but their own beds and cooked their own dinners outside.
Fletton parade night.
Once the first lockdown was over, all adults worked tirelessly to ensure all the requirements were in place for cadets to return to face-to-face training, which we achieved at the beginning of October. On my visits to detachments, it was obvious that the cadets and adults were delighted to be back. Even though social distancing and other regulations were put in place, there was a fantastic atmosphere, and everyone ensured that cadets and adults stayed safe. Unfortunately, within just a few weeks, the second lockdown began, and we had to return to virtual training. This was extremely disappointing for everyone, but our attendance numbers were soon back up and fun was again being had by all.
The first week of December has seen the final parade nights for 2020, and I took the opportunity to visit each 1 Coy detachment virtually. As well as wishing everybody a merry Christmas and a happy new year (in advance) I wanted to thank all the adults for their hard work and dedication through a very tough, unexpected year. I also wanted to thank the cadets and parents for their support, enthusiasm and commitment without which ‘the flame’ would not have been ‘kept alive’. All detachments had a fun Christmas night, some dressing up in Christmas jumpers and hats, with quizzes and games being played.
In normal times, we would have had our Christmas weekend at Waterbeach, and I would present the Coy cadet awards. This year they had to be presented virtually, though they will be given again, in person, at a later date.
The award categories and winners were:
Cadet of the year – Cadet Dean Stubbings, Yaxley Detachment – Cadet Stubbings had only just joined before the first lockdown started, but this did not dampen his spirits. He embraced virtual training and is thoroughly enjoying the cadet experience. Following on from the virtual pre camp where cadets were required to sleep somewhere other than their bed, he enjoyed sleeping out in a basha so much that he continued to sleep there for a whole week. When face to face training returned, he was back parading and can’t wait to restart as soon as possible in the new year.
NCO of the Year – L/Cpl Crideford, Fletton Detachment & L/Cpl Dennis, Wisbech Detachment –– L/Cpl Crideford consistently put himself forward to support lessons during lockdown. His lessons were well prepared with his own research which enabled him to develop his own skills as an instructor, whilst also assisting others. He joined all teams calls and was encouraging and engaging.
L/Cpl Dennis has also ‘stepped up’ during lockdown and really impressed his adult instructors. As well as being an enthusiastic teacher, he has also been eagerly encouraged other cadets to participate in all the virtual training. He has planned and prepared his lessons to a high standard and executed them well, keeping the cadets informed and engaged whilst ensuring a lot of fun was had along the way.
Most Improved Cadet/NCO of the Year – Cadet Harvey Taylor-Riseley – Cadet Taylor-Riseley is autistic and has learning difficulties, but he has not let this hinder him. Always polite and helpful, he has stood out to his detachment and company staff due to his engagement with training and asking of questions to improve his knowledge. Harvey has pushed himself beyond his comfort zone to achieve more. During lockdown he was so determined not to miss anything he joined most team events even when he didnt have video.
Best Attendance of the year – Cdt Sgt Charlie Rice – Whittlesey Detachment – Every parade night and weekend attendance is recorded on our administration system. This enables us to see which cadets have attended the most parade nights and weekends. This award went to Cdt Sgt Rice with the highest attendance of 91% for the year.
Best Detachment - Walton – Throughout the whole of 2020, Walton Detachment has consistently demonstrated the spirit and enthusiasm of the cadet force at it best. When lockdown began, Walton (along with others) made a great effort with virtual training. They supported the competitions as well as the virtual pre-camp weekend. They have excelled at charity work, collecting enough aluminium cans for Helipads for Hospitals to make an entire helipad. SI Lester has completed two remarkable charity challenges. The first of these involved tabbing, cycling and running a 100 mile distance to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the royal signals. Secondly, he completed the Para 10 competition, tabbing 10 miles with a 45kg backpack on, and his combined efforts raised a truly astonishing £7000 for good causes.
I am exceedingly proud of all the cadets and adults of 1 company for embracing and rising to the challenges this year has thrown at us, and we are all looking forward to a better year ahead.
Text by Major Deacon with PI Stuart