Army Cadet Force Celebrates 40 Years of Women And Girls

1 July 2019

On Saturday 8 June 2019, cadets and adult volunteers from across the UK gathered in York for the Royal Gun Salute. Not only were they celebrating the Queen’s official birthday, but the event was also used to celebrate 40 years of girls and women in the ACF.

Colonel Haughie from Northumbria ACF, currently one of the most senior serving female officers in the ACF, took the inspection, accompanied by Brigadier O Brown, Commander of 4 Brigade.

Cadets and adult volunteers from all ranks came from Berkshire; Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland; Humberside and South Yorkshire; North and West Yorkshire; Durham; Northumbria; Lothian and Borders and the Black Watch ACFs.

The day started with torrential downpours and persistent rain, however, it brightened up for the start of the 21-gun salute by 101 (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery in the Museum Gardens in the heart of York. All attendees were invited to lunch held in the exquisite Imphal Barracks Officers Mess.

Sgt M Price from 11 Brigade Cadet Training Team (CTT) became a cadet on the Isle of Wight in 1980, around the same time as Maj S Welburn of Northumbria ACF was the first to become an adult volunteer. Lt N Neasham of Durham ACF first paraded at Newton Aycliffe Detachment in 1988, at the time her county didn’t enroll female cadets but, because she had always wanted to join the Army, she was issued a boiler suit and allowed to take part. The following year she attended her first camp.

Up until the 1980s, girls and women could join the sister Girls Venture Corps, but not the ACF. A trial to introduce female adult volunteers launched in 1978 and the first female cadets joined the ACF in 1979. Now 34% of cadets and 30% of adult volunteers are female and they are instrumental in the successful running of one of Britain’s most successful youth organisations.

The day was also an opportunity to thank other volunteers who have supported the ACF 'Step Change' diversity and inclusion project, including Lt Col S Oakley of Berkshire ACF and the Project Support Officer, Lt R Howieson of the Black Watch.

They were also joined by Colonel (retired) Hilary Williams, the Project Lead who to date has been the only female Colonel Cadets, and Lt Col G Moncur, the ACF Step Change Project Manager, all kindly hosted by the Brigade Commander, along with Colonel A Hadfield, Deputy Commander 4 Brigade and Lt Col(retd) Allan Barnes, Garrison Support Officer.