Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force has continued its enthusiasm and commitment to The Duke of Edinburgh Award over the last year, and celebrated a significant level of success with 130 awards started and 50 completed. This represents a 100% increase in award completion over the previous year.
Our county has ensured that the DofE qualification is a key component of what we do in the ACF, and we take every opportunity to emphasise the benefits and the fun to be had in undertaking the challenges involved.
We have driven this increase through the use of social media - by increasing the use of a dedicated DofE Facebook page - and used this to engage with our adult volunteers and our cadets to keep them updated on their progress and achievements. Great progress has been made by past and present County DofE Officers, and Company DofE reps. Amongst the activities undertaken are visits to detachments and attending camps to give presentations and support cadets with their awards. We have worked hard to increase awareness and promote the benefits of the award, and have also held open drop-in sessions once a month and encouraged as many people as possible to attend.
During the lockdown the DofE reps have joined in with online detachment meetings to support cadets and adults. Our County Sports Officer, SSI Jordan Bullman, instigated several competitions to engage cadets and adults in keeping fit, with points being given for each mile completed in an inter-company competition. Whilst open to all cadets, this has been especially important for some who have used this opportunity to complete the physical activity component of the award. These elements have helped 11 cadets to complete their award since April.
We have held successful presentation evenings for cadets to collect their awards. The last face-to-face ceremony was held in January 2020 where Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Julie Spence OBE QPM presented two gold badges. In the near future we will be conducting virtual presentations, where the award certificate is later received by post. We hope that the introduction of the new 2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement - for those who have completed all the sections apart from the expedition and residential - will see even more cadets receiving recognition. We are also confident that the new online version of Introduction to DofE, a course run over two evenings, will encourage even more adult volunteers to support DofE and become expedition assessors and supervisors.
Our success has been made possible by ever greater adult support, with more expedition assessors and more leaders becoming qualified. Greater adult engagement has led to increased promotion, better instruction and greater availability of the award - a process we are determined to continue.
The importance of DofE is fully recognised by Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force Commandant Colonel Mark Knight MBE DL, who said; ‘The DofE award scheme offers great opportunity for challenge, adventure and fun! It also provides cadets with an internationally recognised qualification for a CV to help employment prospects.’
Text by U/O Whyall (County DofE Officer) and PI Stuart (County P.R.O)