23 October 2020
After seven months being unable to hold any face to face training, Cambridgeshire ACF Detachments are once again re-opening, beginning with Cambridge Regional College Detachment, and No.1 Hereward Company.
During the lockdown, 1 Company had actively and enthusiastically engaged with virtual training using Microsoft Teams, which had helped keep the organisation running and enabled many cadets to progress with the APC (Army Proficiency Certificate) syllabus, as well as hold fun detachment social evenings. This virtual training included a creative and demanding company pre-camp field craft weekend which was successfully held in July.
Preparing an outdoor lesson at Whittlesey. Picture; Major Deacon
In September, face to face training by Cadet Forces was deemed by the Government to be essential activity, due to its importance to the lives and development of so many young people. From this point on, the company staff and Detachment Commanders worked tirelessly to complete the enormous amount of work needed to ensure that training could be resumed as safely as possible. This included the completion of risk assessments and other paperwork, planning and implementing Covid safety measures, checking that these safety standards were being met, and writing and sending explanatory letters to parents.
After everything was in place and permission given, 1 Company detachments returned to training starting at Wisbech on Tuesday 6th October and Chatteris on the 7th. March, Fletton, Walton and Yaxley commenced on the 8th and Talavera on the 12th. Finally, this week the last remaining 1 Coy detachment, Whittlesey, returned, seeing the whole company back to training.
Left, a cadet waits for lessons to begin, and right, kit inspection, Chatteris. Pictures; Doug Stuart
Parade nights began with Cadets meeting together outside for a socially distanced parade, and classes were taught indoors, in different rooms, with cadets split into smaller bubbles, wearing masks and again, socially distanced.
These restrictions did not dampen cadets’ enthusiasm for being back – they were excited about resuming training, but most of all pleased to see their friends.
Cadets at Chatteris. Picture; Doug Stuart
Cadet Sgt Charlie Rice (Whittlesey) said; ‘I was really pleased to be back at Whittlesey Detachment for face to face training, and to restart the stuff I have missed most and to return to a safe and fun environment.’
Staff Cadet Edward Hill (Chatteris) said; ‘Its just great to be back- great to see everyone again. Its been a difficult time without Cadets.’
Major Deacon, 1 Company Commander visited detachments on their opening nights to support the Detachment Commanders and welcome the cadets back. She said; "It has been a long 7 months of virtual training. All the cadets and adults were really looking forward to returning. A lot of hard work and thought has gone into the preparations for returning from County HQ to the DC's. It was great to see the cadets come back. The atmosphere was great at all the detachments."
Left, Cadet Sgt Rice receives his Lord Lieutenant's Cadet Certificate, and Staff Cadet Sgt Major Dunthorne receives his Grenadier Guards Warrant Officer cap badge. Pictures; Major Deacon.
2 and 3 Company are also hard at work on preparations for their return to training, which they hope to do in November.
Text by PI Stuart and Major Deacon