Being in the Army Cadets is how so many young people develop their foundational skills, make new friends and cultivate more profound love and appreciation for some of the things they’re most passionate about. In many cases, being a cadet also helps improve routine and structure, but it doesn’t mean you have to go on to be in the army.
You may not be aware of it, but many celebrities spent part of their teenage years as a cadet, learning discipline while developing their skills. Let us take you through nine famous people who used to be in the ACF.
1. Timothy Spall OBE
The Battersea-born award-winning actor has become a household name for his roles in films such as Enchanted, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The King’s Speech, and as Peter Pettigrew in five Harry Potter films. But before he was the well-known actor turned painter he is today, Timothy Spall was actually Corporal Spall in the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment Club (cadets) in Battersea, South West London.
2. Prince Harry
Prince Harry has frequently been seen in military uniforms and is no stranger to speaking about and supporting cadets, serving officers and veterans. The Prince himself was in the Combined Cadet Force at Eton College before undertaking two tours of Afghanistan in 2007/08 and 2012/13.
3. Nicola McLean
Before becoming a reality star, with stints on both Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, Nicola McLean was in the Army Cadets as a teenager. The media personality was made Corporal at the Camden detachment in North London during her time with the ACF, worlds away from her current celebrity status.
4. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam MBE
Professor Van-Tam was awarded an MBE (military section) in 1998 when he was Acting Major Jonathan Stafford Nguyen-Van-Tam, Lincolnshire Army Cadet Force. After graduating in Medicine in 1987, he has gone on to specialise in influenza epidemiology, transmission and vaccinology. His unit has been officially designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Pandemic Influenza. Today, Professor Van-Tam remains Deputy Chief Medical Officer within the Department of Health and Social Care since his appointment in 2017.
Who would have thought that you could go from Army Cadet to Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England? We did, and so did Jonathan Van-Tam. The possibilities are truly limitless for your future and life after the ACF; we help you build and hone your skills while finding your passions in life.
5. Jeremiah Emmanuel BEM
Jeremiah Emmanuel BEM is a former South East London cadet turned entrepreneur, youth activist and author. In 2016, he openly expressed how the first aid training he received from the ACF helped him save someone’s life, leading him to run a campaign to have first aid taught in secondary schools in England. After working within his local community from a young age, he was formally awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2017 for his services to young people and the community.
6. Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee is well-known for being both Deputy Prime Minister to Winston Churchill and former Prime Minister, but did you know he was also an ACF officer who ran the Stepney Green Detachment?
Following his time as an ACF Officer and serving in the British Army, he eventually became PM, passing many significant acts that have helped define the UK as we know it. These include: managing the creation of the NHS by passing the National Health Service Act in 1946; passing the National Insurance Act 1946, which introduced social security; and establishing a comprehensive childcare service by passing the Children Act 1948.
7. Joss Stone
British singer, songwriter, and actress Joss Stone is also a former Devon Army Cadet. After rising to fame in 2003 with a multi-platinum debut album, she has received numerous nominations and won multiple awards for her music, while also landing roles in both TV and films.
At the ACF, you’re able to learn instruments of your choice and over half of our detachments offer cadets the chance to learn music, even gaining a BTEC First Diploma.
8. Martin Lewis OBE
Known for being a TV presenter, journalist, author and entrepreneur, the Money Saving Expert, better known as Martin Lewis, has many titles under his belt, including former cadet.
9. Shaun Bailey
Shaun Bailey is a politician within the Conservative Party and a member of the London Assembly. The ex-journalist, with over 20 years’ experience as a social worker, joined the Army Cadet Force at the White City detachment in his pre-teens and became a Sergeant Instructor in early adulthood. He went on to stay in the ACF for a further decade, all the while pursuing a degree in Computer Aided Engineering.
Being a cadet can open so many doors you may never have considered, expand your skillset, and prepare you to handle unforeseen circumstances. Hopefully, our list inspires you to think of a career beyond your wildest dreams. Find your nearest detachment
today, and discover what being a cadet could mean for you.