Major McAlinden; New OC 4 Coy

Major McAlinden; New OC 4 Coy

22 July 2022

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

Major Russ McAlinden has been appointed Officer Commanding 4 Company (OC4), in which capacity he will oversee Cambridge Regional College Detachment and the Corps of Drums. Although Major McAlinden is new to Cambridgeshire ACF, he brings decades of experience and expertise to our organisation through his service with the schools-based Combined Cadet Force, as a professional teacher, and an experienced adventure training leader.

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Russ, (centre) Nijmegan March 1996.

Russ’s first Cadet experience was through joining the ACF Detachment at Prince William School, Oundle, as a 13 year old Cadet in 1992. He was highly successful, climbing to the rank of Cdt Sgt Major and leaving at the age of 18. He said; ‘The ACF gave me fantastic opportunities and enabled me to do a lot of cool stuff, including an expedition to the Himalayas In Pakistan. This was a goal post changer for me, and it opened my eyes to the outdoors.’ In 1996 he also took part in the four day-long Nijmegan March in The Netherlands and completed the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. He said; ‘My Cadet experience gave me the experience to step outside of my comfort zone and learn who I was.’

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Doing a parachute jump as a cadet.

On leaving school, Russ attended De Montfort University, Bedford, where he gained a BA (Hons) in Adventure Recreation. He then moved to North Wales, where he became a full-time instructor at a mountain centre. After this, he returned to university, this time to study for a PGCE teaching qualification in Physical Education, and started work as a professional PE and Outdoor Education teacher at Bridlington School. As this school had a Combined Cadet Force (CCF), Russ quickly found himself once again involved with the Cadet Forces, and went on to receive a Commission in 2005.

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Ice climbing in Norway.

Moving to Cambridge to take up a job at the Leys School, he became Officer Commanding the school’s Army Section, and was promoted to the rank of Captain. Later, he became overall Contingent Commander with the rank of Major. He has supported Cadet courses as a member of staff at Cadet HQ Frimley Park, and with the Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training, experience which has included climbing in Yosemite and Norway. He has also completed the KGVI Leadership and Skill at Arms Courses. Away from the Cadets, he is a passionate Karate enthusiast and experienced instructor, and co-runs Cambridge Karate Club.

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Summit Island Peak (6160m)

After moving to a different school without a CCF, Russ found himself looking for a different opportunity. His son, Joshua, (a Cadet at Longstanton) persuaded him to join Cambs ACF, where his experience as a Contingent Commander makes him ideally suited to command a Company. As OC4, his priorities include supporting the Corps of Drums, and helping to grow the band. He says; ‘I have seen the benefits of the ACF first hand- I left Cadets as a different person to when I started. I want to give something back- and to allow young people to have the same sense of adventure that I experienced. The ACF is one of the best leadership and development tools available to young people, and its great for me to be able to continue making a real difference to young people’s lives.’

Our Commandant, Colonel Deacon said: 'I would like to warmly welcome Major McAlinden to Cambs ACF, and its great that he can continue his Cadet career with us. His background with the CCF will bring to us new ideas and perspectives, and his considerable experience of working with young people, through the cadet forces, teaching, and adventurous training, will prove to be a great asset to our County.'

Text by SI Doug Stuart