Face-to-face ACF activities were suspended in March 2020 and training - encouraged by HQ Regional Command with the hashtag #KeepTheFlameAlive - switched to online virtual platforms around the UK. D Company, Derbyshire ACF, were early adopters and created a training environment on Microsoft Teams.
Lt Thomas, Ticknall Detachment Commander, took over the running of virtual training from Captain Hirst, Area Training Officer, in September. With Covid-19 restrictions loosening, the ACF was beginning to return to face-to-face training. However, this was short-lived with the introduction of another national lockdown. Lt Thomas, said "we were experiencing a decline in cadets' online attendance in the autumn, largely due to fatigue with online learning. It required us to become quite creative to keep the weekly offering fresh & interesting. One success was beginning physical training sessions cadets could follow from their living rooms / bedrooms. We also invited interest lessons that ranged from knot tying to British Army vehicles & weapons."
Apart from a brief return to training in October 2020, D Company has maintained a weekly programme of virtual APC training, interest lessons, quizzes & games.
To celebrate a year's online engagement with cadets & adult volunteers, the Virtual Training Awards were created. 18 Oscars-inspired award categories ranged from Best Sound Production to Best Cadet in a Leading Role. Senior officers, and guest presenters from Cyprus ACF, Derbyshire Police & an Honorary Colonel, announced winning cadets & adult volunteers.
60 cadets, adults & members of the Derbyshire ACF band logged in to see the Awards Night. An online raffle was also drawn and produced 3 winners. SI Hogwood, Etwall Detachment, planned the event with Lt Thomas, and said "congratulations to the well-deserved winners and thank you for enabling #KeepTheFlameAlive. Teams has enabled our D Company family to maintain contact but we are very much looking forward to opening Detachments very soon".
Watch the video below for selected highlights. A full edit of the Awards Night (26 minute runtime) is available here: https://youtu.be/T0eSYKjKChc