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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



30 April 2021

Emmalee Wray is a former cadet with Ballymena Detachment of the Army Cadet Force (ACF) where she gained many qualifications and experiences, one of which was the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and this paved the way to her encounter with Prince Philip.

On finishing her residential training for the Gold Award, Emma was selected to to represent the ACF UK as the Queen’s Cadet in the Queen’s 90th birthday ceremony in April, 2016. She said: “I would be walking by the Queen’s side representing Northern Ireland at the official birthday party in Windsor Castle. On the Queen’s first attempt the beacon it didn’t light, to which the Duke of Edinburgh turned to us and whispered: “Has anybody got a match”? Another instance of his wit, that day was when he was speaking to myself and another RAF cadet. He asked us both if we had done the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme? To which I replied that I had, it was one of the reasons I was here whilst the other cadet truthfully said he had not. The Duke of Edinburgh responded by saying I was now his favourite cadet! It was one of the best experiences of my life and meeting HM the Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh is something I will never forget and would never have achieved if it were not for the Army Cadet Force.”

Emmalee was presented with her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award at St James Palace, London. The ex Ballymena Academy pupil went on to be accepted at Newcastle University, joined the University Officer Training Corps, graduated, and is currently finishing her Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). She now plans to progress in her Army Career she has recently passed her Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) and will be attending The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in September.