Cadet RSM Conor McLennan , Oxfordshire ( The Rifles ) Bn ACF
I am Cadet RSM Conor McLennan from Oxfordshire ( The Rifles ) Bn ACF and I am 17 years old. I have now been a member of the Army Cadet Force for just over 5 years. During my time as a Cadet I have had many enjoyable experiences and have made many unforgettable memories. Not only have I created unforgettable memories I have also made friends for life and become part of a new family.
I have been very fortunate in my time as a Cadet and have been lucky enough be part of some absolutely amazing and most definitely once in a life time events that I would never have been part of if I was not a Cadet.
My real experience of the amazing things the Army Cadet Force does as an organisation was in 2009. As a young and relatively new Cadet I decided to go on the Ham ‘N’ Jam Normandy Tour that is run by Oxfordshire ACF each year. This incredible tour featured battlefield and graveyard visits, as well as many commemorative parades in honour of those who fell during the Normandy campaign, and more specifically the role Ox and Bucks LI in the capture of Pegasus Bridge. This tour left me with a new appreciation for life and a new appreciation for what our Armed Forces did for us during the Second World War and the memories I created during that time will most certainly last a lifetime.
In 2010, I had the privilege of being part of Her Majesty The Queens annual birthday celebration. This particularly year was full of Cadet 150 celebrations and as part of that a selection Army Cadets, Air Cadets and Sea Cadets were selected to be part of the celebrations. I was lucky enough to be selected to fly
onboard an RAF TriStar along which was flanked by two RAF Tornadoes and fly
over London. This was an incredible experience and one that was for me a once
in a lifetime opportunity.
Another unforgettable experience I had during my time as a Cadet so far was my Cadet Leadership Course that I attended as a Serjeant. This experience shaped me and developed me massively as a person and gave me a new confidence in my ability and created a huge new range of leadership ability for me. During the course we did everything from skinning rabbits, to fast and furious section attacks in extremely snowy conditions, to managing a disaster. This course for me still remains a highlight of my time as a Cadet and I would definitely rate it as one of the most beneficial courses in terms of developing me as a person and in terms of the enjoyment and pride I got from completing the course.
Another fantastic experience of mine was touring both Belgium and France with Oxfordshire ACF’s band, the Corunna Band & Bugles as a Colour Serjeant and as a Bugler and Nottingham ACF’s band, The Robin Hood Rifles. The tour featured various battlefield tours as well as many commemorative parades remembering not only British forces that fell during the First World War but also Canadian, French and Belgian forces. The real Highlight of the tour came with the Final Parade at the Menin Gate, this was an incredible experience, with people from all nationalities marvelling at our tunes as well as our ability to march and play at 140 paces a minute!
Now into the more recent past and experiences as the Cadet Regimental Serjeant Major and the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet. I 2012 I had the honour of being selected to be Oxfordshire ACF’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet which is something I had desired to be ever since I was a young 12 year old Cadet. During my time as a Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet I have had many enjoyable experiences however the three highlights for me are the Royal Visits I was able to be a part of. One with the Duke of Kent, another with Princess Anne and the real highlight of the three and one which was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity was with Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Maundy Service at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. To be stood just 10 meters away from HM and to be looking at her while singing the National Anthem was an overwhelming experience.
Lastly not only has the Army Cadet Force given me the opportunity to do things I never would have anywhere else it has also taught me many good qualities that I feel are very much unique to Cadet Forces. The ACF has taught me to be courageous, disciplined, respectful, given me integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment and has made me a far more confident and proud. However, most importantly the ACF has given me friends for life and a second family with unbreakable bonds.
For more information on the Army Cadets in Oxfordshire please visit http://armycadets.com/county/oxfordshire-acf/