A new year, a new conference

As Sandhurst hosted the ACF Conference for 2020, announcing the future to the senior leadership teams from the length and breadth of the UK. Essex Hosted an inaugural Detachment Commanders Conference from the HQ in Chelmsford.

22 January 2020

Our 32 detachments were represented on Saturday at Chelmsford for a conference hosted by our Deputy Commandant for HR and H&S Lt Colonel Edwards and supported by a number of guest speakers.

The first three agenda slots where take up by cadets themselves, including the Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major Jacob Berry who opened proceedings the detachment commanders by enthusing about his own ‘Cadet Experience’ and what an incredible impact the ACF and its hard working volunteers had made on his life. As well as talking about the varied curriculum of the Army Cadets he also spoke of his exciting experiences including parachute jumping, and a host of adventurous training opportunities he had made the most of. The Cadet RSM was keen to point how he had been encouraged and motivated not just by his own detachment staff but by all the instructors in the organization that he has come into contact with. The next cadet speaker was both a Chelmsford Cadet and a member of our Corps of Drums, Cadet Sgt Quartermain spoke about her time with the ‘Drums’ and spoke of her many highlights that included performing for royalty and at the Menin Gate. She was keen to emphasis how the training the Corps offered compliments the ‘Green’ training of the her home detachment, as well as highlight that the progressive music syllabus can be a great aid to senior cadet retention. Our delegates where then treated to presentations on both Shooting and ACF Signals. Cpl Crabb hosted the topic of shooting, this talent youngster is an Olympic under 18’s hopeful a result of training and development within Essex ACF. The discussion around cadet radio training came from LCpl Spinner of Manningtree, who spoke at length about the implementation of signals training at detachment level. The Cadet RSM ten returned to the dais to speak about the opportunities on offer at the ‘Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training’ based in Wales, Advice was given on the course available and how to apply for a place. RSM Berry spoke about a multitude of activities many in the Uk but some as far away as Bavaria.

Our delegates where lucky enough to have a number of Guest speakers, Including Lieutenant Colonel R J H Sutherland MBE TD who is SO1 Reserves at Head Quarters Royal Signals. He took the opportunity to not just talk about how his regiment want to better support and work with their affiliated cadet units, but cemented the relationship he was laying the foundations for by way of presenting a ‘Pace Stick on behalf of his regiment to our Cadet RSM who is only one of two signals badged Cadet RSM’s in the UK. Other morning sessions included an animated presentation on leadership and the core values from Sergeant Abi Wilkinson of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester. The last presentation of the morning came from Capt L Henwood of the ACFA who explained to out detachment commanders some of the grants and funding opportunities available to help fund the ‘cadet experience’. With a Description of what is available and tips & techniques on how to purchase equipment and get help with the cost of trips The latter being of particular interest to our Drum Major who plans to take the Corps to Normandy later this year!

Directly before the informal lunch there was an opportunity for some ‘Quick fire Fixes’ with small groups sharing local issues and discussing best practise with a county Subject matter expert, the quick fix forum saw some exciting out of the box thinking as well as generating ideas and solutions.

The afternoon centred around two main themes, the Training program for 2020 including annual camp, and marketing and recruiting withing Essex ACF.

The County Training officer Major Carrington took the time to talk about the varied and exciting plans for the year ahead particular attention was paid to Annual Camp, which this year takes place at Lydd, much time was spent discussing the training and a discussion on the ‘Battle Picture’ was had there was even some ‘Propaganda’ on the possible mission(s) shares with the detachments.

Our Local Reserve Forces and Cadets Association also visited the delegation to discuss open days, recruiting, school visits and School engagement. With support from the Yes agency a new schools engagement toolkit was shared with the assembled volunteers to help us to spread the word of the ACF too more youngsters in Essex and being able to pass the ‘Cadet Experience to more people.

The sessions ended with a series of ‘Beret Off’ discussions, with our delegates breaking off into company units to share issues and ideas on streamlining practises to help lessen the load on the volunteers whilst maximising the fun and safety of the Cadet Force in Essex.

It was a great day for all the assembled delegates, with everyone taking away some key learning. Essex ACF was very grateful for the support it received from the guest speakers and the Deputy Commandant looks forward to using the success of this event as a spring board to make 2021 even bigger and better!