Written and read out by Hon Col Sharman Birtles MBE JP DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester
The late Queen understood that without the many thousands of volunteers, this Country would be in real difficulties and so The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created in 2002 to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. Equivalent to an MBE, QAVS are the highest Awards given to local voluntary groups in the UK and are awarded for life.
As the lead for The Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service in Greater Manchester, I cannot stress enough how difficult it is to get this Award. There are in the region of 17,500 volunteer led organisations in Greater Manchester and since 2003, when the Awards started, only 252 have been awarded, which equates to under 1.5%.
In Greater Manchester we put forward a total of 48 nominations last year of which there were 21 winners – so it must be said you have joined an elite ‘club’. I understand there is only one other Army Cadet Force in the UK which has the Award, and I can also tell you that there is no Air or Sea Cadet groups who have joined this elite club.
So, as you will appreciate, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service demands very high standards to succeed, and this group consistently meets and exceeds those standards.
I am going to summarise what the Assessor said in his Citation about Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force because I want to make crystal clear how important every single person in this room is to the organisation.
The Assessor started by saying ‘From the first contact with Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force one can immediately sense that this is a very different organisation. With everyone you meet and every exchange you have, it builds on the sense that this is more like a close family rather than a Countywide organisation’.
Every Adult Volunteer is focused on one thing - the Cadets, it is central to everything you do. From the Commandant down you have clarity of vision to promote a Force for Good. Each of you is encouraged to develop your own self confidence and personal growth, to increase your capabilities and leadership skills and to embrace the diversity of the communities you serve through a safe, respectful, welcoming and inclusive culture. Everything you do underpins the guiding principle of doing what is in the best interest of the Cadets. You all give your time, many of you having served for a number of years, and without your commitment Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force would not exist.
But more than that, the knowledge you pass on to the Cadets gives them life skills which will last for their lifetime. You inspire them to communicate, have resilience and personal confidence. You teach them to work as a team and to lead a group, to embrace diversity in all its forms and, most crucially, to be decent human beings.
Studies have shown that developing these attributes leads to positive outcomes for the Cadets - improved social mobility, more effective education, improved mental and physical wellbeing, enhanced employability and reduced vulnerability.
Greater Manchester ACF, and that of course means each one of you, has developed a culture that not only aspires to deliver opportunities to young people via the ACF syllabus, but to further place the child at the centre of your work so that the activities are a vehicle to engage, not an output to measure value. That is to say, you make the young people the very best they each can be. No robots. No copies. It is all about the individual child.
Greater Manchester is obviously part of the national framework for Cadets but for some years it has driven forward by developing its own identity, shaping its own culture and direction, and focusing on what people can do, rather than what they cannot do. This is an outstanding Army Cadet Force which exists because of you - its remarkable volunteers – you are selfless, dedicated, enthusiastic and make a significant difference to young lives.
The Assessor said it was humbling to see the training of Cadets at all levels of proficiency and watching new recruits being welcomed and beginning their initial training, being taught by an Adult Volunteer who may well have attended their drill night straight from work. He also said it was a pleasure to see young Adult Volunteers who themselves were once Cadets, now take on the training mantle, as was seeing brand new volunteers being taught by experienced serving volunteers of many years standing. He added it is also striking to note the number of parents who become Adult Volunteers having seen the impact that Greater Manchester ACF has had on their son or daughter and wanting to give something back.
Whatever your motivation, the organisation is deeply indebted, and I thank each and every one of you. What you give to this Force is the greatest gift you can ever give to the young people of Greater Manchester.
Congratulations on this most deserved Award and be proud of your contribution to the huge and ongoing success of Greater Manchester Army Cadet Force.
The staff in attendance from each company were presented with and pin badge and the Award by the Hon Colonel. For more pictures click here or see below.