In a historic event that seamlessly merges history, heritage, and a commitment to nurturing future leaders, the National Army Cadet Force (ACF) Museum was formally unveiled on the 11 September 2023. The ceremony, graced by the presence of Victoria Cross recipient WO2 Johnson Beharry, unfolded at the birthplace of Octavia Hill in Wisbech. This momentous occasion not only pays homage to Octavia's remarkable legacy but also marks the birth of the first Independent Army Cadet Unit in 1889, a pivotal milestone of the Army Cadet Force.
The National Army Cadet Force (ACF) Museum: A Tribute to…
In a historic event that seamlessly merges history, heritage, and a commitment to nurturing future leaders, the National Army Cadet Force (ACF) Museum was formally unveiled on the 11 September 2023.
Octavia Hill, a native of Wisbech born in 1838, is celebrated as a prominent social reformer, one of the illustrious founders of the National Trust, and a passionate advocate for open spaces. However, her invaluable contribution to the Army Cadet Force often remains in the shadows.
The ceremony was graced by distinguished guests, including Brigadier Tim Seal, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, The High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Colonel Ashley Fulford, National Colonel Cadets at Cadets Branch, Regional Command, Brigadier Richard Lyne from the Royal Anglian Regiment, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Wisbech. The event also extended a warm welcome to veterans from Wisbech Royal British Legion.
A poignant moment during the ceremony was when Brigadier Seal read a letter from Buckingham Palace, acknowledging the significance of the new National Army Cadet Force Museum and Octavia's pioneering work with the Cadets.
Following the grand opening, WO2 Beharry delivered an awe-inspiring talk, sharing the captivating story of "how he won the Victoria Cross." Local Cadets from Wisbech Detachment, along with children from the nearby Cambian Wisbech School, had the privilege of meeting WO2 Johnson Beharry VC COG and joined him in planting a tree on Centenary Green, a touching tribute to the occasion.
The ACF Museum is a treasure trove for all history enthusiasts and Cadets. It boasts a captivating collection of uniforms, tracing the ACF's timeline from its inception in 1889 to the present day. The museum showcases manuals and incorporates modern technology with a "touch screen" for access to videos, photographs, and YouTube links. For Cadets unable to visit the museum in person, an engaging virtual tour with information points has been created via the Octavia Hill Birthplace House website.
This opening marks a significant milestone, made possible through the dedication of individuals who share a passion for preserving history and inspiring future generations. The National Museum idea was initially conceived by Colour Sgt Tim Scargill from Sussex ACF. Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wisbech-born Col (Retired) Mark Knight MBE DL joined forces with Tim, ultimately delivering and completing the project. Mark, with an impressive 45-year tenure with the Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force and retiring as its County Commandant, played an instrumental role in bringing this museum to fruition.
WO2 Johnson Beharry VC COG stands as a staunch supporter of the Army Cadet Force. He resonates with the Cadets' mission to provide teenagers with opportunities for personal growth, becoming responsible citizens, and steering clear of potential pitfalls.
Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House
7 South Brink
Cambridgeshire PE13 1JB
Registered Charity No: 1018947