Our Two Newest Commissioned Officers: 2Lts Barrett &…

Our Two Newest Commissioned Officers: 2Lts Barrett & Woodbridge

23 October 2021

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

Two of our Adult Instructors have recently passed the challenging assessments required to become Commissioned Officers in the Army Cadet Force.

On 3rd July (then) Adult Under Officers Phil Barrett and Nathan Woodbridge attended an Army Officer Selection Board at Whipps Cross Army Reserve Centre, London. Due to the pandemic, the board, which usually takes place over two days at Westbury, was reduced to a single day, and took place in a number of different locations to allow non-residential attendance. The event was socially distanced, and in a Covid secure environment. The tasks set to candidates included being asked to give an introduction, before splitting into discussion groups. A theoretical command task was set, a short lecture had to be delivered, as well as a planning exercise and final interview, focusing on why the candidates had applied for a commission.

2Lt Barrett, left, and 2Lt Woodbridge. Pictures: Doug Stuart

2Lt Barret said: ‘I told them I wanted to be in a leadership role so that I could be in a positive position to influence how things are run. The ACF influences young people to not waste opportunities, and gives them the best chance in life.’ The selection board was a challenging experience, with 2Lt Barrett commenting; ‘It was a very intensive day. The hardest thing about it is that they didn’t give any feedback during the day- so I had no idea if I had passed!’

2nd Lieutenant Phil Barrett joined the ACF in 2017, starting as an instructor at Swavesey. He had previously spent four years as a civilian instructor with the Air Training Corps, but wanted to be more involved with Army training activities, such as fieldcraft. He became DC of Swavesey a year later, briefly stepping down due to the birth of his daughter, before becoming DC of St Ives Detachment in May of this year. He has worked as a Civil Servant for twenty years.

On receiving his letter telling him he had been successful at the commissioning board, he said: ‘I couldn’t believe it – it had been a long wait because of covid, but there was a great sence of achievement.’

2Lt Barrett receives his new rank from (then) Commandant Colonel Fraser-Hitchen, Annual Camp 2021. Picture: Doug Stuart

2nd Lieutenant Nathan Woodbridge started as a cadet, 15 years ago at Ampthill Detachment, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire ACF. He became a Cadet Corporal, was three star complete and took part in the Combat Cadet training exercise. At the age of 19 he became an adult Instructor and then a Detachment Commander. Having moved to Cambridgeshire earlier this year, he joined Whittlesey Detachment as an Instructor.

2Lt Woodbridge receives his promotion from Commandant Colonel Deacon, Whittlesey, September 2021.

In his civillian career he is a nurse at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, having just qualified before the pandemic started. In spite of extremely difficult experiences over the last year, which he describes as ‘by far the biggest challenge of my life’ he is upbeat about the support he and other NHS workers have received from the public, saying that ‘the collective energy of the nation made us feel proud to be nurses.’ His work situation prevented him from attending Annual Camp this year, resulting in his promotion being awarded to him at a later date.

Nathan Woodbridge as a cadet with Beds and Herts ACF.

Looking back at his experience at the selection board, he said: ‘preparation is key, attending the pre-board training and practicing interview techniques'. He found the board; ‘very challenging, but I was well prepared', saying at his interview that he 'wanted to use his leadership skills to help cadets as much as possible, and take on greater responsibilities.’ On receiving his letter he said he was ‘elated- I had been preparing for it for several years and it was really exciting to succeed.’

He went on: ‘the best thing about the cadet force is it brings people together, people of all ages and different backgrounds, to work together to get the best out of everyone. It also provides great opportunities for leadership. I am looking to become a Detachment Commander again, and hope to go onto a Company role in the future.’

Text by PI Doug Stuart