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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



05 March 2021

Following on from the successes of the joint Act of Remembrance for the D  Day Landings in June 2020, and the Christmas Social in December 2020, this weekend saw cadets and adults from 2912 Sudbury Irish  RCACC, 2915 Capreol Irish RCACC, 2685 Whitehorse RCACC and 1st (NI) BN ACF join together to conduct a packed virtual Winter VTX over Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February

The programme was packed full of fascinating presentations and videos. It promised fun, friendship, action and adventure and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Officer Cadet Oliviera governed the timings while Cadet RSM Wooton (2912 Sudbury Irish) compered the exercise with supreme confidence, earning huge praise from the staff across both sides of the Atlantic.

Both training days began with the Canadians conducting “Land Acknowledgements” for Northern Ontario and the Yukon, solemnly observing the custom of commemorating the indigenous peoples’ principal kinship to the land, followed by the Canadian National Anthem “Oh Canada”.

During the training on day one, cadets in Northern Ireland were fascinated by the presentations from the Canadians including building winter shelters and how to maintain equipment in the most extreme of cold climates. The Canadians were equally as enthralled by the tactical training undertaken by the Northern Irish cadets.

On Saturday evening, a number of VIP guests dropped in to witness some of the exceptional training taking place. The Honorary Colonel for 1st (NI) BN ACF, Mr David McCorkell, Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim had this to say: “It was an honour to attend the Winter VTX and see the opportunities for the cadets from orthern Ireland and Canada to virtual train together”.

ACF Ambassador Sally Orange also dropped in to give a hugely engaging talk about her experiences of cold climate expeditions, having previously visited the Whitehorse Cadets while she was in Canada to participate in the Yukon Arctic Ultra – the worlds coldest and toughest ultra marathon.

The Commandant of 1st (NI) Battalion ACF, Col Adrian Donaldson added “An amazing event, which saw lots of Canadian and Northern Irish cadets reach across the Atlantic and establish new friendships, whilst demonstrating the various skills they have developed as cadets. I was impressed by the enthusiasm shown by all and the very high standard of the individual presentations. It was good to see the Irish traditions being maintained by the Canadian Irish Cadet units, their caubeens and hackles, Irish motto and display of Irish dancing”.

Day two of the training involved yet more exceptional presentations starting with a survival kit challenge by Capt Gary Miniss, the 1st (NI) Battalion officer responsible for reaching out and making the initial connection with 2912 Sudbury Irish RCACC.

The survival kit challenge was followed by a look at winter foraging in the Yukon, an insight into the British Army Ordinary Ration Packs (ORPs) issued to cadets out on field exercises in the UK and also how to dress appropriately for extreme cold climates.

As is now customary, a Kahoot quiz was hosted by Canadian Cadet Sergeant Weston and Northern Ireland emerged victorious for the second time in a row. Cadets and adults were then invited to break out into various themed chat rooms into get to know each other better based on their particular interests. 

Both days concluded with the playing of our National Anthem and a debriefing session the Canadians refer to as an “after action report” where feedback is sought from every staff member in attendance.

Corporal Staff Sergeant Ciara McKay from Antrim detachment Cadets has previously travelled to New Brunswick to take part in the Argonaut Canadian cadet exchange programme before the lockdown. When asked about the Winter VTX Ciara said “It’s obvious just from attending the first day alone how much effort has been put in behind the scenes – it’s so amazing and I’m so impressed by the Canadian Cadets and how keen they are to speak up and get involved – they are such an inspiration”.

In an interview with Captain Tracey Lamirande, Commanding Officer of 2912 Sudbury Irish, Capt Lamirande said that her driving force is “cadet wellness and staff wellness, trying to maintain a sense of normalcy as much as possible and continuing to deliver some of these very valuable skills that we deliver in the cadet programme”.

The instructors and cadets from both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean are to be commended for the huge amount of time and effort involved in creating such an interesting and engaging programme of events. We are all excitedly awaiting the next VTX planned for Spring.