An organisation which has helped countless young adults to develop their skills, broaden their horizons and become better citizens, has been awarded County Durham’s highest honour.
Durham County Council’s Chairman, Cllr Watts Stelling, presented the Chairman’s Medal to the Durham Army Cadet Force at their detachment at the Durham Army Reserve Centre, after attending one of their drill sessions.
Durham Army Cadet Force’s 850 cadets and 200 adult volunteers operate in over 41 locations across County Durham. The group was collectively nominated to receive the award for its help in the community, support for charities and dedication to the provision of adventurous activities and citizenship training for young people.
Formed in 1859, Durham Army Cadet Force is one of the country’s oldest voluntary youth organisations, as well as one of the largest, and works with boys and girls aged 12 to 18-years-old, welcoming all abilities and backgrounds.
Through an ever-increasing range of activities, some with a military theme and others with a community focus, the group encourages young people to learn more, do more and try more, inspiring them to pursue their goals, no matter what they aim to do in life.
Durham Army Cadet Force promotes and represents the county, often assisting at events such as Royal visits, Remembrance Day events, the Durham Regatta, and the Miners’ Gala. The organisation’s Band and Bugles are also regarded as the country’s best Army cadet force band and their success has resulted in performances at Buckingham Palace, the Royal Albert Hall’s Festival of Remembrance, Horse Guard’s Parade and several military tattoos, as well as supporting bereaved families with a lone bugler at the passing of loved ones.
During their time in the Army Cadet Force, young people gain cadet qualifications and take part in activities to develop teamwork, personal skills, citizenship, and first aid. On six occasions in recent years, they have been crowned National First Aid Champion Team and have also broken several time records in the annual Nijmegen Marches in the Netherlands.
The group strives to maintain local community links and gives its time to support those in need, including numerous charities and organisations, such as Armed Forces charities, Dementia Care, The Woodland Trust and Age UK.
The large group of adult volunteers which runs the force works selflessly to develop opportunities for the next generation, often on top of full-time jobs. In particular, the team has been praised for going above and beyond in finding innovative ways to keep staff and cadets fully engaged and enthusiastic during the Covid pandemic, when face-to-face socialising was not possible.
Accepting the award on behalf of Durham Army Cadet Force, Colonel Commandant Neil Foster said: “I have been a member of Durham Army Cadet Force over 25 years, and I am still very proud of how much we do as an organisation to inspire young people to achieve, which fundamentally is only possible because of the selfless commitment given freely by our Cadet Force Adult Volunteers. It’s a privilege to accept this accolade from the county in which we serve on behalf of every member of Durham ACF.”
Cllr Stelling said: “The Army Cadet Force does fantastic work, helping to raise young people’s self-esteem and broadening their perspective on what they could achieve, inspiring them to challenge their limits and become more independent, whilst also helping the community around them.
“This medal recognises a truly remarkable achievement and the resolute leadership, enthusiasm, dedication and hard work of everyone involved in the running of the cadet force.”