The Commandant of Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force, Colonel Mark Knight MBE, DL, has retired from the organisation after 45 years of service.
Colonel Knight attended the Isle Of Ely College, Wisbech and joined the cadet force as a 13 year old cadet at Tydd St Giles Detachment in 1968. Having held a variety of appointments as a Detachment Commander, Signals Officer, and Public Relations Officer, he was appointed Commandant (overall commander) for Cambridgeshire in January 2016. During his time with the organisation he was awarded a Lord Lieutenants Certificate as well as a ‘Sword of Excellence’ in 2004 and an MBE by Prince Charles in 2007. In 2019 he was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire.
Right, Colonel Knight with Johnson Beharry VC.
As Commandant he oversaw a growth in the organisation and the establishment of two new detachments, with a further two due to open shortly. He took part in The Cambs 876 Remember Project – a seven year project set up by The Royal British Legion to remember the 876 Men of the Cambridgeshire Regt on the 100 year anniversary of their death during WW1, and attended WW1 commemorations in France. He has encouraged cadets to work in the community, including clearing grave yards, supporting the Royal British Legion with the annual Parade and Poppy Appeal collecting. In recent months he has helped to ensure that Cambs ACF can continue functioning during the lockdown through virtual training.
Being awarded his MBE by Prince Charles, and presenting an award at annual camp, 2019.
He says ‘For the last four years I have had the privilege of leading the 880 Cadet and Adult Leaders of Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force for which I honestly believe is the Country’s best youth organisation. It provides challenge, adventure, builds confidence, friendships, develops life skills which will help both Cadets and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers. All of which are useful to those joining Her Majesty’s uniformed services, or taking up a civilian career. The ACF provides the opportunity to gaining external qualifications through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and CVQO. Over all it helps makes people better citizens and more community spirited. 45 years is long time to serve as it becomes a major part of one’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few “not so good days” but I wouldn’t change a thing.’
Colonel Knight reflects on the many friendships he has made during his long service and the support of his family, especially his wife Diane. He will hand over to the new Commandant, Colonel Adam Fraser-Hitchen, on 1st August.
Text by PI Doug Stuart