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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


18 December 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, I would like to take a few moments to reflect on our activities throughout the year.  We have witnessed ever increasing numbers of young people joining the cadet movement and they, in turn, are enjoying the many opportunities offered to them by the cadet organisations.  I am immensely grateful to the RFCA NI Professional Support Staff and the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers who continue to work so hard to deliver the cadet experience for all the cadet organisation in Northern Ireland.  It is humbling to see the effort they all put in, especially the Adult Volunteers who do it in their spare time. 

The Schools Cadet Expansion Programme has continued to develop momentum and we were delighted to welcome Kilkeel High School as our newest CCF.  We ran our second Cyber Skills Challenge competition this year, supported by the Army’s Cyber unit and the NATO Cyber team.  139 pupils from schools across Northern Ireland entered the competition and spent a useful day learning various aspects of cyber defence.

The Defence Relationship Management team delivered a series of wide ranging events and activities for employers throughout 2023; including a visit to a Field Hospital exercise in York.  We were also able to host specific employers on RFA ARGUS when she berthed in Belfast and employers attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Belfast Tattoo.  We were honoured to be able to sponsor the Defence Reservist Nurse of the Year award at the Royal College of Nurses award ceremony.     

This year there has been a significant increase in the number of organisations in Northern Ireland who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, which is very welcome support for the Defence community in Northern Ireland.

The Employer Engagement team continues to support the mobilisation of our service people across the globe with Sailors in the Middle East, Aviators in the Falkland Islands and Army Reservists delivering training to Ukrainian Defence Forces in GB.

Our Higher and Further Education and Health Affairs Committees, continue to flourish and are achieving great things for us within their respective communities.  We formed the RFCA NI Membership Committee recently and will it will focus on the expansion and role of our membership. Work is underway to provide a more interactive and secure member’s area on our website.

The Estate team continues to deliver essential maintenance and support to reserve and cadet training centres, within very tight budgetary controls.  Major building works completed in 2023 include:

  • Major extension to Hybebank Reserve Centre,
  • Installation of electric charger and parking improvements at Windsor Park
  • Refurbishment of Tyrone House guard room, and the addition of gym heating, disabled access and a refurbished cadet class room.

We continuously monitor the safety of the estate to ensure a safe place to train.  We were the first organisation in the MOD to implement an automated Legionella monitoring system.  We are now in the top 20% of all MOD estates in terms of Gas safety.

The addition of ‘robot’ lawnmowers in both Magilligan and Ballykinler camps has saved money, time and importantly has also contributed to saving CO2.

Financially, the annual accounts for FY 23/24 were audited and the report was approved by the Chairman.  The finance team continues to maintain up to date accurate and accessible accounts on a monthly basis.  As with all public sector organisations, our budgets are under close scrutiny by MOD and external audit.  I am very pleased to report that our accounts are in excellent order.

Everyone from the Executive Team of RFCA NI would like to extend our sincere thanks to you, our loyal supporters and members for your continued and valued support.  We look forward to next year and to sharing our stories from across the Association. 

Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2024 to you, your family and friends. 

Brigadier (Retired) Michael Murdoch, MBE

Chief Executive