With lockdown coming to an end, many cadets are looking forward to resuming face to face training, however some others have moved on from Cambridgeshire ACF in the last 12 months. While the ACF is not specifically a recruitment tool for the Armed Forces, we do follow a very similar training syllabus and many of the activities we do are the same as those that you would expect to see the Army carrying out. This means that naturally a large proportion of the cadets that join us have an interest in joining the Army later in life.
During the lockdown two cadets from No.1 Hereward Company left home and joined the British Army as Junior Soldiers, conducting their basic training at Army Foundation College (AFC) Harrogate. Ex-Cadet Corporal James Marshall (Fletton Detachment) and Ex-Cadet Sergeant Callum Lilley (Yaxley Detachment) both passed out as Private Soldiers on the 18th February and have now gone on to start their trade training. Pte Marshall as a Driver in the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Pte Lilley as an Armourer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
Private Lilley (second from right) passing out at The Army Foundation College. Picture: Army Foundation College
When asked if they thought their time in the ACF was of use to them in basic training, Pte Marshall said “The fact that I had been a cadet for 3 years and learned so much meant when I was at Harrogate I could focus on learning new things rather than having to learn everything from scratch”. Pte Lilley agreed and added “I wasn’t as stressed as some of the other Junior Soldiers because I was going in with a level of knowledge already. I was even able to help others to learn things, because I had taught junior cadets some of the skills at my detachment”. This month Ex-Cadet Corporal Else (Wisbech Detachment) has also gone to AFC Harrogate and he will then do his Phase 2 training to join the Royal Engineers as a Fitter.
Private Marshall (middle with glasses) at his passing out ceremony. Picture: Army Foundation College
While some cadets decide to leave the ACF early, either to join HM Armed Forces or for other reasons, some stay with us right up to 18. On the same day numerous ex-cadets passed out and became Private soldiers, No.1 Company said goodbye to their Cadet Company Sergeant Major, Ashley Coulson (Fletton Detachment). Ex-Cdt CSM Coulson turned 18 on the 18th February and after reaching the rank of Cdt CSM and achieving his Master Cadet qualification, he decided to end his time as a cadet so that he can pass on the knowledge and skills he learned and as a Cadet Force Adult Volunteer (CFAV). The next Cadet CSM for No.1 Company is currently being decided and will be announced soon.
Instead of leaving or becoming a CFAV at the age of 18, another route is available: becoming a Staff Cadet. This is a new scheme that allows a cadet up to two further years (until they turn 20) to complete additional qualifications and achievements such as finishing their DofE, completing Master Cadet or gaining a First Aid at Work Qualification. As an adult they are also given more responsibilities to support the adult instructors and to assist with running activities. Two examples of cadets that have taken this route are Staff Cadet Sergeant Major Dunthorne (Whittlesey Detachment) and Staff Cadet Colour Sergeant Hill (Chatteris Detachment). Cdt Sgt Maj Dunthorne said “I chose to be a staff cadet because I would like to complete my Gold DofE and reach Master Cadet before leaving for university. I would have probably been able to do this before turning 18 if my last 6 months as a cadet weren’t spent in lockdown”.
We would like to wish all of those that have taken on new roles and positions the best of luck in their endeavours, with a reminder that the skills they have learned and developed as part of the ACF will help them in whatever they choose to do.
Text by SSI Rylan Ray