Monthly Archives: August 2012

Oxfordshire Army Cadets cope with ever changing weather

Annual Camp 2012

Just over 200 Oxfordshire Cadets, including four from a local CCF (Combined Cadet Force), have recently returned from a challenging two week’s Annual Camp at Okehampton in Devon.

The Dartmoor weather was nothing if not consistent in its unpredictably. The days often starting overcast, moving on to driving rain, followed by sun mid afternoon, returning to overcast late afternoon! This had the inevitable impact on activities, however despite this, the cadets had a great time training in cadres and achieving passes in a whole variety of subjects and Star levels, including a very successful 4 Star Cadre. The middle weekend saw the exercise phase with all cadres putting into practice the training of the preceding week.

Two star Cadets patrolling

The following Monday was a day-out to Bude and on the Wednesday, the Inter-Company Skills Competition commenced, with each company trying to outdo the others at the activities. By Friday, very tired, yet happy and contented cadets, and adults, were ready for the return trip to Oxfordshire and opportunity to ‘chill-out’.

The daily updates and photographs can be found at:

Thanks to:

A W N Hames


Media & Special Projects Officer

Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Bn ACF


Running the Brighton Marathon for education charity CVQO

The Brighton Marathon 2013

A team consisting of myself, A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Eleven Army Cadet Force (ACF) Adult Volunteers from across the South East have given up their own time and are taking part in CVQO’s first major sports sponsorship initiative – the Brighton Marathon 2013.

Recently, Team CVQO met for the first time at South East Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association headquarters in Aldershot, Hampshire, where the team met up with (Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation) CVQO Fundraiser Jeanne Peterson. Team CVQO was then briefed on what to expect from the 26.2 mile run in April, and how to make the most out of their fundraising.

Runners for Team CVQO who attended the first briefing

The current team consists of instructors from the ACF in Berkshire, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire and IOW. All of the runners are keen to overcome their own personal challenges, and raise money to offer more educational opportunities to young people with CVQO’s qualifications.

CVQO provides opportunities for young people and volunteering adults from all three services to improve their prospects in education and work through vocational qualifications. Set up in 2001, the charity is now extending this offering from the MOD uniformed Cadet movement to other youth organisations like St John Ambulance, the Prince’s Trust, Police Cadets, Fire Service and others outside the UK.

Our runners logo

If you are interested in one of the remaining places and wish to join Team CVQO, contact Jeanne at

Please assist our team and make a small donation, every penny counts :

Thank you to you all    

Fred Hughes

CVQO Duke of Westminster Award

The South Africa Experience

Arriving in Hammersmith all nine of us were meeting only for the third time, and this time we were going to be spending twenty one days in each other’s company, so getting along was quite an important factor. This this turned out not to be an issue and before we had got on the plane the next day, after having all started a small modelling career with the aid of the photographer, we had gelled together. Out of the nine, there were two ACF cadets, three ATC cadets, two SCC cadets, a CCF cadet and a St Johns Ambulance cadet from all over the country, which created some difficulty with the understanding of accents.

After a sleepless 14 hours of flying we landed in Durban, SA, and had a short bus journey to our first port of call, Umkhumbi Lodge, Hluhluwe. The first few days were all about introducing us to the wildlife and the bush, we were taught about the dangers of the different types of snakes, spiders and scorpions (many of which are hibernating at this time of year thankfully) and handled some of the less deadly. Our introduction also consisted of the anatomy of a warthog when we skinned and gutted two before eating them the next day, short walking and driven safaris and an environmental awareness course. Four days later, after negotiating the Swaziland border customs and one of us being accused of having a fake passport, we were ready for a two day wildlife trail in the Swaziland bush. I found these walking trails are so much more worthwhile than the driven safari as being on foot, we got to both experience the bush properly and got much closer to the wildlife, some inquisitive white rhino even came within ten meters before our guide told us to slowly back away.

It seems we were cursed by the Swaziland border. The next day, on the way back through one of the fuel lined popped off and was repaired in the traditional African way by the border security and our guide, Anton, with what was to hand; a multi tool and some wire. We then drove on to the Pongola River for my favourite part of the trip. For the next two days we drifted in a canoe down the scenic waterway, camping each night in beautiful, idyllic spots on the river bank. After a week of sweating it out in the bush it was nice to relax and cool down in the water of the Pongola.

Checking out the local wildlife

Straight from the beauty and peace of the Pongola River we proceeded to the Kosi Bay mature reserve, another example of the beauty of Africa. Unfortunately only four of us cadets and Mike, our leader, could experience the sights of the bay and Indian Ocean because everyone else had come down with vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes simultaneously) as soon as we arrived. On the way to the bay, there was a viewpoint which took in the bay and the lakes, but later in the day Adam and I found a spectacular view from a dune. It was the most spectacular sight of my life. It belonged in a panoramic scene from Jurassic park. Unfortunately, we had had to swim to get there and didn’t have any cameras on us. That evening Adam got ill like the others, but luckily he didn’t miss out on anything as the next day we were travelling to Sipho High school.

The high school was our first real immersion into the culture of rural South Africa. The most powerful moment of the trip was during the school assembly when a young girl started spontaneously singing and the whole school sang back at her. She then led the school in a song for a few minutes. Even if I couldn’t understand the words they were singing, I could see how happy they all were to be singing together. Another thing I noticed about the children was discipline. They would be singing, dancing or talking and one word from the teacher would make a class of fifty sit still and listen, in seven years of school and college in England I have never seen this happen. Having not seen any disciplinary action taken in the school in the days we were there, I can only assume the discipline and respect came from the family and home.

The Expedition Group

Our last stop on our South African Adventure was Elaandsheim for the battlefield tours. En route, the trailer top broke, again repaired in the traditional way by the helpful taxi company staff, the ever resourceful Anton, some washers, and a hammer. 22nd January 1879 a massacre of British soldiers occurred in the morning at Isandlwhana followed by a heroic (and successful) last stand that evening and the next morning at Rorke’s Drift where eleven VCs were awarded. The whole story was told in an enrapturing way by Reggie over two days. After this, it was sadly time to make our way to the airport, but on the way we stopped off at a HIV/AIDS care centre. It was a pretty grounding experience. A lot of the patients were well  on their way to recovering their strength thanks to the programme set up there, but a few I can only compare to looking like the men and woman I have seen pictures of when Nazi concentration camps were opened in WWII. It really does highlight how lucky we are to have the NHS and the education to help ourselves prevent the spread of HIV.

The trip may have ended on that sobering note, but it was just one of the experiences that made it an unforgettable and life changing trip for all of us. Every day held many new experiences in store, from skinning and gutting your own dinner to getting close enough to a rhino that you can hear it breath. Apparently amazing was used something like sixty times in the blog for the group who went the year before us, and now I know why: there is no other word that comes close to being suitable for describing this trip. It was amazing.

Thank you Jamie Bamforth (Surrey ACF)

For more information contact

International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE)

261 (Guildford) Squadron   

I was recently lucky enough to be selected to travel to Hong Kong as part of the International Air Cadet Exchange. I left Heathrow on the 17th of July with 5 other British cadets, then spent the first day meeting the rest of the cadets, who had come from all over the world (Turkey, Canada, Israel and Australia, to name but a few of the countries).

A Super Puma helicopter in which CWO Holroyd flew over Hong Kong

Over the following 2 weeks we travelled around Hong Kong, and even spent 3 days in mainland China. We visited fascinating temples and historical sites, as well as more modern attractions such as the Ocean Park. We also visited Cathay Pacific headquarters and the Government Flying Service, where we had the chance to fly over Hong Kong in a Super Puma helicopter. In our free time we went souvenir shopping in the local markets and played card games in the hotel.

souvenir shopping in the local markets

I can say for certain that this was the best experience I’ve ever had as a cadet, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to go. As well as the fantastic experiences, I’ve met people from across the world that will now be lifelong friends, and I loved having the opportunity to learn about all their different cultures. This was a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember forever and I am very thankful to the ATC for giving me this opportunity!

For more information on 261 Squadron please email


Another wonderful week at Valley

Wonderful week at Camp

RAF Valley was yet again a fantastic host to 37 cadets and 9 staff members from the Wing as the 2012 camp season entered week 5. The cadets arriving for the week, 21st to 28th July were provided with a packed programme of events that kept them busy and entertained from beginning to end.

Valley is home to No 4 Flying Training School, now the only Advanced Training and Tactics Unit, responsible for training all RAF and RN fast jet pilots to front-line Operational Conversion Unit and 22 Sqn and 230 Sqns Search & Rescue and the SAR Training Unit for the Royal Air Force. The cadets were treated to visits to both 4 and 208 Sqns (flying the Hawk – No 208 Sqn conducts Advanced Flying Training and No 4 Sqn provides Advanced Training and Tactics) and 22 Sqn and 203 Sqns (flying the Sea King) as well as the SAR Training Unit (flying the Griffin and Augusta 109). The information imparted by both the aircrew and ground crew who looked after the camp during their visits were extremely interesting and the cadets were able to see much of the aircraft from close range and indeed the inside of some of the aircraft.

Camp Photo- Valley 2012

The rest of the week was packed with activities which included visits to the Air Traffic Control and fire sections, and visits to see both the Hawk T2 aircraft (which are barely two years old having been delivered from British Aerospace) and the Hawk T1, a coastal orienteering exercise and a night exercise at Mona airfield. An off station trip was again made to Betws-Y-Coed to the very impressive High Ropes course which has a 104 feet power-fan drop on which some 15 cadets took the plunge. The camp programme provided the cadets with a vast array of things to do and see together with a number of sorties in the dynamic Hawk simulator, 6 lucky cadets flew in the Sea King, inter flight bowling, the customary sandcastle building on the station beech and a variety of sporting competitions in the gym and various leadership exercises.

As usual, the week was highly competitive with room and uniform inspections, which led to a closely fought competition with ‘A’ Flight just edging the inter-flight competition thanks to some excellent performances in sports and the drill competition. The Best Cadet award was presented to Cadet Josie HOUGH of 2313 (The Chalfonts) Squadron and the Best First Time Cadet award was presented to Corporal Scott LLEWELLYN of 2313 (The Chalfonts) Squadron. The best NCO award was presented to Sergeant Rebecca DAVIES of 1365 (Aylesbury) Squadron and she enjoyed the experience of the hour long Hawk flight with some aerobatics. Each best cadet received a Corgi die cast metal model of the Hawk aircraft, a Sqn T-shirt and various Valley aircraft prints and books.

The Camp Commandant, Squadron Leader Jeremy Davies, saidI would like to take the opportunity to thank my staff, the ACLO team and all those who helped to make the camp a very successful week and such a fantastic experience for the cadets. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the warm and generous hospitality provided by all those at RAF Valley – thank you”.

For more information on the Air Cadets please visit:

Ethiopian Escapade

Ex Ethiopian Escapade

What an amazing experience, Ethiopia, it’s culture and terrain
First stop Addis Ababa and acclimatisation, a change from the rain
A visit to a historical museum, evolution, royalty, agricultural tools a few to list
“Lucy” and the evolution process – a fabulous experience not to have missed.

On the road to Bahir Dar, near the beautiful Lake Tana
A bite to eat in Debre Markos and then to our hotel and manor
A visit to Kebranst Gabriel Unity Monastery, men only living here
Showcasing their historical heritage, through the generations that did occur.

Next it was Gondar, a visit to the Castle and then the MLT foundation training did start
With lots of relevant information, questions and answers to impart
Early start for Debark and Gelada baboons were first on our list
The regal looking males with red chests, so as not to be missed.

Julie making friends with the local children

To Geech Camp 15kms, a meagre five hours to walk
A chance to get acquainted, learn about people’s lives with light and cheery talk
A meal to look forward to and the first of the cultural briefs to portray
All about Ethiopia’s “Culture” – fantastic in every way.

A trek to Chenek reaching heights of 3620m and 3500m via Imlet Gogo
A 21km walk with breathtaking escarpments galore
Sightings of Walia Ibex, a magnificent creature to behold
A meal followed by an “Ethnic Group” brief, then did unfold.

Ambiquo was next, at a height of 4200m – an awesome sight to see
Then Inatye 4430m, second highest mountain in Ethiopia passing the cloud lines that be
A challenging downward descent to Chiro Leba Village, food to fuel our 25km way
Evening meal and then a brief of the “Geography of the Simien National Park” to end the busy day.

Julie and Cara resting at the summit

Ras Dashen summit 4562m – a rock face to climb with the most amazing views to behold
Where a plated meal prepared by the cooks did stylishly unfold
The sighting of rare Simien foxes leaping and bounding ahead
At Ambiqou added to the animals we had heard about in the “Wildlife” brief and previously read.

Next we trekked to Sona, eating a packed meal on the brow of a hill
Glad to arrive in camp, settle and eat hot food, followed by the “History of Ethiopia” an hour to fill
The next morning, to Makarebia we commenced our gruelling 900m descent
A time for washing in the river and an improvement of a sweet scent.

At Mulit Camp where we continued the MLT tests and collection of money
For the enthusiastic muleteers and the much awaited traditional tipping ceremony
From dancing to singing and the participation that did unfold
To the tambola sought after treasures for the less fortunate to behold.

The Expedition group

The last day trekking to Adiarkay Village was undulating to say the least
A great feeling to reach our destination and a fizzy drink we could not resist
A long 182km bus ride to Gondor, our destination Lammargaer Hotel for dinner and bed
A truly wonderful experience, warm, showered and fed.

Next it was to Debre Markos stopping at Bahir Dar for a cold drink
And lunch at Fenotta Selam from which on the bus, into a slumber we did sink
Arriving at Debre Markos, experiencing the traditional coffee ceremony in full swing
The flowers, the coffee aroma all set in the scene of a ring.

At Addis Ababa a trip to the Flea market a must for all to see
Protected by body guards crucial to their success and fee
The ethnological museum our last cultural event
Followed by Yod Abyssinia Cultural Restaurant before, in the bus to the airport we went.

A thoroughly enjoyable adventure was had by one and all
Encouragement of team work, enthusiastic as we recall
The joining of Reserve Forces and Regular Army as one
Learning about another country was quite simply – great fun.

For more information contact:

Worthy Down
SO21 2RG

Cerebral Palsy in the Army Cadet Force

My name is Amanda Sargeant aka Bonsai. I have Cerebral Palsy and so suffer from brain damage, due to the fact that I was born premature.

In 2000 I was introduced to the Surrey Army Cadet Force (ACF) by one of my dad’s friends who ran the Walton Detachment at that time.   I thought it would be fun and a great opportunity to make friends in my local area as my school was some way off.

Throughout my time at Cadets my self confidence and self esteem had greatly improved. I have made a good deal of friends some of which I still speak to today, some 12 years on.

Civillian Assistant Amanda Sargeant

During the 2 and half years as a Cadet I participated in many events, such as the Remembrance parades, the poppy collecting and many other community events.

The Cadets teaches young people to respect others and the importance of teamwork and communication, all of which I believe are lacking in today’s young people. Activities such as command tasks, drill, and skill at arms strengthen all of these attributes.

Due to my disability I have to use a light manual wheelchair. Cadets being the organisation that they are had never experienced a physically disabled Cadet until now. So my joining was an eye opener. There was no disabled access into the Walton’s Detachment. Surrey Army Cadet Force recognised this problem and rectified it by creating a disabled access ramp going in to the Detachment,  they also installed a disabled toilet. So now it accessible for me and other disabled Cadets who may wish to join in the future.

I was an Army cadet for 2 and half years but had to leave due to the fact I was moving house which was in another area.

At the end of last year I was at a loose end in my life and was looking for a new challenge. So I got back in contact with the Walton Detachment Commander and he suggested I should rejoin the Army Cadets as a Civilian Assistant

Now I am back at Walton detachment and my main priority at the moment is sitting in on lessons refreshing on things I have forgotten with the aim of assisting in lessons.

For more information on Surrey Army Cadet Force please visist: or tel no 01483 425371


Senior Aircraftwoman Boon on Herrick 15/16

SAC Boon on Op Herrick 15/16

I am a movements operator with 4624 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force and I have recently returned from a three and a half month tour in Camp Bastion. Myself and 5 others from the Squadron deployed with A Flight, 1 Air Mobility Wing (1 AMW) in February 2012 and formed the air movements element of the Joint Movements Unit at Camp Bastion. I worked on one of the three traffic teams which are responsible for physically loading and unloading the aircraft with anything from troops to helicopters. The work was physically demanding, especially bearing in mind that I work as an accountant in civvy street and spend my days sat at a desk looking at spreadsheets!

Arriving at Camp Bastion was a shock to the system as it is hard to imagine what it is going to be like before you actually get there.  Our pre-deployment training was largely trade focussed so it took a bit of time to get used to the routine of living and working on a large military base. After a couple of weeks, though, I felt totally at home. The regulars from 1 AMW were fantastic and made the reservist contingent feel very much part of the team which was great.

We worked 12 hour shifts and rotated between days and nights. On balance I think I enjoyed the night shift more but I was always grateful to see the sun when my turn on the day shift came round. It was not too hot during our tour and the heat only really became intense during our final few weeks. The work on traffic is quite varied, involving restraining loads on the aircraft, driving various vehicles to get the loads to and from the aircraft and a fair amount of baggage stacking! My favourite job was driving the rough terrain fork lift truck – it is the size of a tractor and great fun to drive.


Driving the rough terrain fork lift truck

I was fortunate in that during my time at Bastion, the Indirect Fire Alarm was only sounded once and I believe that it was a false alarm, although I did not know that at the time. Security concerns meant we had to carry our rifles at all times when not on the airfield but we never had to fire our weapons. Life at Camp Bastion is safe compared to forward operating bases and checkpoints and I was grateful for that. All the movers had to do at least one guard duty during the tour and I found myself in a tower on the perimeter fence for 24 hours with three soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corps. It was the only opportunity I had to see the country which existed outside the wire and I found it very interesting.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Camp Bastion because it was a total break from the norm and I deployed with a great group of people. It was still wonderful to return home at the end of May and to see my friends and family. I have now been back at work in my civilian job for almost a month. It was initially strange returning to the office but my colleagues have been fantastic, making me feel very welcome and helping me to settle back in.

For more information on joining 4624 Movements squadron RAuxAF tel 01993 897262 or email: