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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



12 December 2018

It has been an extremely busy and successful period for 1st (NI) Bn ACF. The Battalion remains vibrant and well recruited with 41 officers, 110 adult instructors, and 826 cadets, with a number of potential adult instructors currently under training on the Basic and Intermediate Induction Courses.  A further batch of adult instructors will complete their training on the Advanced Induction Course run by 38 CTT in Feb 19.  The focus for the past 3 months has been recruiting to replace those cadets who left during the summer to move on to higher/further education, into the workplace, or reached the upper age limit of 18 years.  

A very enjoyable Annual Camp took place at Altcar, outside Southport, in July.  The Camp was visited by our Honorary Colonel (the Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Londonderry), Comd 38 (Irish) Bde, President ACFA, Chief Executive RFCA (NI) and SO2 Cadets, 38 (Irish) Bde, plus a number of officers from Cadets Branch, Regional Command.  We also hosted a senior civil servant from Poland’s Ministry of Defence and a Command Sergeant Major from their Army.  They were studying the Northern Ireland cadet movement as part of their plans for a national cadet expansion programme, and took part in various activities, including an Officers’ Mess Dinner night.  A wide variety of military and adventure training was carried out, and 38 CTT ran a Senior Cadet Instructors’ Course. 

The Battalion has had considerable success in both sporting and military competitions.  The NI ACF Girls’ hockey team won the National ACF Hockey Competition for the 7th year in a row, under the guidance of Lt Kerr, who has now moved on from her position as both Battalion and Brigade Sports Officer on promotion to captain. 

3 cadets and 1 CFAV took part in the annual Canada Exchange, places on which are extremely competitive.  Cadets and CFAVs from A Coy had a very successful trip to London to watch the ‘Trooping the Colour’, and a large number of cadets took part in a WW2 Battlefield Tour to Gdansk, Warsaw and Krakow in Poland, where 1 (NI) Bn ACF renewed their acquaintance with their Polish visitors, in the British Embassy in Warsaw, as both Polish and Northern Ireland cadets gave presentations and exchanged gifts.  A very moving, educational and thoughtful day was spent at Auschwitz Concentration and Death Camp, which had a major impact on all involved.

On 1 Aug Col Kane handed over command to Col Donaldson MBE VR DL, after nearly 32 years’ service with the ACF, having originally joined as a potential instructor.  This is a remarkable record of service, and one can only wonder at the thousands of cadets who he has helped develop into young adults over this long period.

On 04 September, all the Lord Lieutenants’ Cadets were invited to Hillsborough Castle to take part in the Annual Secretary of States’ Garden Party with the Princess Royal, Princess Anne in attendance.  The cadets were involved in marking the locations or specific guests to meet the Princess Royal, and recognised the significance of the opportunity afforded to them by this duty.

The Battalion had two cadets who won Matthew Bacon bursaries enabling them to attend outward bound courses in the Lake District and Loch Eli, Scotland.  Both cadets thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from their courses.  The bursaries are specifically aimed at developing leadership and teamwork in young persons.

Cadet CSgt Ethan Wilson, B Company, won the (national) BAE Award for Excellence in First Aid, a tremendous achievement, and received his prize at the ACFA Annual Dinner in London in November. A Company won the Calcutta Cup, the first time for the company in 27 years, much to the delight of all involved, and a just reward for all their hard work and training!

The Cullybackey Detachment, C Company, have had an unbeatable run of recent successes.  Firstly, in October, they won the (national) John Muir Award for their contribution to maintaining their local environment where they live, enlisting the support of other cadet services.  This required a significant amount of commitment from the cadets and their Adult Instructors, to organise and deliver a programme of ‘clean ups’, and other community events.
Secondly, in late November, SSI Roxborough, won a British Citizen Award ‘Certificate of Recognition’ for her dedication and outstanding record of volunteering with the ACF.  This is the first time that this award has been made to an ACF CFAV, and is a major achievement. 

Finally, on 01 December, Cullybackey B team, came 1st in the ACF section of the 38 (Irish) Bde’s Local Heroes Competition, and second in the overall competition, with Cullybackey A team, taking 2nd place. To complete a 1st Battalion ‘hat trick’, Dungannon Detachment, A Company, came in 3rd.  The Dungannon team had won the competition outright in the previous two years.

The Battalion Charity for the year was Autism NI and 1 (NI) Bn ACF were very pleased to be able to hand over a cheque for over £14,000 raised mainly by the cadets, ably assisted by their adult instructors, but also by permanent staff who did a 2-day charity cycle ride around all Battalion locations.

The Battalion will shortly be standing down for a well-earned rest over the festive period, returning on 5 Jan 19 to host an Awards presentation in the presence of their Honorary Colonel, for two recently qualified Master Cadets and various other award winners.