Success for Cambs Cadets with CVQO Westminster Award

Success for Cambs Cadets with CVQO Westminster Award

3 July 2022

  • Cambridgeshire ACF

Two of our Cadets are celebrating considerable success in the National CVQO Westminster Award selection process, with one of them becoming the first ever Cambs Cadet to reach the finals to be held later this month.

The Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation (CVQO) Westminster Award is an annual competition designed to recognise and reward the most deserving of learners. Cadets are nominated by their Detachment Commanders, or fellow young people. The criteria for the nomination is left open; it could be that they’ve overcome a personal challenge, helped a family member or friend in need, undertaken some amazing community/charity work or are simply an all-round terrific character. The selection event is designed to extract the key skills and qualities of the participants and show them how to use these qualities in their everyday lives to better themselves.

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Stage 3 participants.

Cambs ACF is particularly keen to support this award, an effort which is led almost single- handily by Captain Liz Hyslop. We are particularly proud of the considerable success of two of our Cadets, Cadet LCpl Eleanor Grace and Staff Cadet Sgt Kate Bilclough, who have progressed to Stage 3 and to Stage 4 (finals) respectively, both remarkable achievements against strong competition.

Stage 1 is the nominations, which opened at the end of last year, and all nominees must have completed a CVQO BTEC Level 2 qualification. Stage 2 was an assignment challenge to be submitted by mid February, for which Sgt Bilclough completed a poem themed PowerPoint presentation and LCpl Grace compiled a video showcasing her achievements and voluntary work. The Cadets had to explain why they had been nominated and why they thought they deserved a place at the April selection event in Somerset. 36 cadets from across the country attended this, and were put in teams and participated in team building and leadership activities throughout the week, being constantly assessed by CVQO instructors and ambassadors.

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LCpl Grace with her CVQO certificate.

Cdt LCpl Eleanor Grace, from Cambridge Detachment, progressed as far as Stage 3 and has benefitted greatly from her participation. She completed the BTEC Level 3 ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) qualification as part of the Westminster Award competition, and her new qualifications have greatly enhanced her academic prospects, and the experience has greatly increased her confidence in working with new people. The CVQO team worked very hard to ensure that her particular additional needs were met, and that the environment was safe for her and inclusive. Eleanor is very proud of having achieved her selection, and her qualifications, as well completing personal challenges. CVQO Officer Captain Hyslop also noted the challenges she had overcome, and additionally commented on her enthusiasm, voluntary work and the improvement in her confidence, which she said had left her ‘a different person.’

Eleanor said: “I really enjoyed the command tasks and team challenges” and her fellow participants were “very friendly” and the staff “respected us and let us lead like adults during the challenges”.

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Cdt Sgt Bilclough is congratulated by SSI Stagg.

Staff Cadet Sgt Kate Bilclough, of St Neots Detachment, will go onto the final Stage 4 selection process in Cornwall which will take place late July to early August. Normally the finalists go to South Africa, but due to Covid restrictions this is not possible. There will also be a lunch at The House of Lords.

Kate said; ‘‘I'm delighted to have got to the final 15, I met some lovely people in Somerset and am looking forward to seeing some of them in Cornwall, It's a great achievement to have made the final from what I believe are thousands of applications, and become the first Cadet from this county to get to the finals. There are a lot of outgoing and very strong characters in the final 15, but I am looking forward to giving it my all in Cornwall and the awards lunch at the House of Lords will be a great experience.’

LCpl Bilclough also completed the BTEC ILM Level 3 qualification, and was the first Cambs Cadet to do so. Cambs ACF CVQO Officer Captain Liz Hyslop said; ‘I’m so proud of Sgt Bilclough’s achievement as it means I can stand down as County CVQO Officer a very happy person having encouraged a cadet to aim high and gain a rare high award that will take her a long way in her future working/university/military life. The next intake of Diploma cadets will get the chance to start it at Annual Camp this year when CVQO training/mentoring staff are visiting.’ Her pride is greatly increased on hearing that LCpl Grace has now also completed this extremely useful and nationally recognised qualification.

St Neots Detachment Commander SSI Dale Irving said; “We are incredibly proud of Sgt Bilclough’s achievements and wish her the best of luck in the next stage of selection in Cornwall. Getting to this stage is a credit to Sgt Bilclough, and is due to her hard work completing her BTEC Level 3 itself, various charity events and outstanding performance on the selection event at Somerset. CVQO/BTEC is another incredible qualification that cadets can obtain through the ACF. Get yourself enrolled and get a great, civilian recognised, qualification on your CV!”

If you are interested in learning more about the CVQO Westminster Award, speak to your Detachment Commander and visit the link here: https://cvqo.org/events-awards/westminster-award/

Text by SI Doug Stuart with SI Emily White.

Photos; SI Emily White, SSI Dale Irving, and the CVQO Selection Team.