Category Archives: Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force

Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion Army Cadet Force Annual Camp 2016 Part.2

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2nd Lieutenant Wayne Thrussell is a former cadet and has been an instructor for 18 years specialising in water sports training. He is also the 2nd In Command of Nivelle Company based in Abingdon.

Wayne, whose day job is a sales trainer said “The kids are sometimes apprehensive about the water based activities and it is great to see their confidence grow once they get on the water and start to build their skills.  As a former a cadet I feel it is important to give something back.”

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Being on Annual Camp gave Cadet Tom Norton the opportunity to try archery.  Tom who is with the Kidlington Detachment said “I would like to join the Army and I think that being a cadet will give me a headstart. I have only been a cadet for 4 months but I am really enjoying it, the range of activities and the chance to do things you don’t do in normal life.”

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Lance Corporal Millie Warwick parades with the Witney Detachment said “I love the environment of camp and especially the shooting and fieldcraft. I think being a cadet is a great opportunity to develop yourself, have fun with friends, we learn to be independent and capable of doing things for yourself.”

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Seeing an advert for the ACF led Lance Corporal Kate Harris to join the Abingdon Detachment almost 2 years ago. She hopes to join the Army as a geographic technician but at the moment she says “Cadets is great fun, I have become more confident and made lots of friends.”

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A member of Shrivenham Detachment, Lance Corporal Mairi Balmer has been a cadet for almost 3 years.  She said “My twin is a member of the Air Training Corps but I couldn’t join due to my fear of heights. I think the ACF offers more than the other cadet forces, activities are so varied.  Our Detachment Commander is so experienced and really keeps us motivated as well as making sure that we have fun. Being a cadet is a genuinely a good thing to do.”

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Cadets from the Corunna Band and Bugles came together at Annual Camp to practise their musical skills, culminating with playing in the Officers Mess during a formal dinner. Lieutenant Kaz Raffael, Director of Music said “The Commandant invited us to come along to Swynerton and to spend a week together on a music camp. We rarely have the opportunity to spend so much time together and the benefits are immeasurable. It is great to see how much progress the cadets have made including learning a number of new pieces.”

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For Lance Corporal George Walkui the ACF has been a great way of developing his musical skills. George plays the trombone, bugle and percussion, and has been a cadet for 3 years. He said “I joined the ACF because of the opportunities to improve my playing. I am a member of the Band and also of Wallingford Detachment. We have some great opportunities to play at events including at a Sandhurst family open day. It is great for us to be able to spend so much time together just playing.”

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Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion Army Cadet Force Annual Camp 2016 Part.1

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A total of 264 Army Cadets and their instructors from across Oxfordshire came together at Swynerton Training Camp, Staffordshire for 2 weeks of fun, friendship and action at their annual camp (6th-18th August). The action started with 4 days out on the training ground putting into practice skills learnt at local detachments. This included a theoretical scenario based exercise in which a sudden and massive invasion of Western Europe by land and air had been launched.  As a result the senior cadets were deployed to the front line to defend the training area, while the junior cadets were called upon to secure a suspected enemy position, known as “Emergency Government Head Quarters, Bunker 6.”

As part of the exercise the cadets cleared bunkers, slept out in the field under a basha, cooked rations from an army ration pack, and practised their navigation and ambush skills. Lending a feeling of reality to the exercise and creating a fast moving scenario, senior instructors communicated to the cadets on the ground via Skype and news updates on the “invasion” were broadcast.

During the second week of camp the cadets took part in a variety of adventure training activities including raft building, canoeing, paddle boarding, climbing wall, archery, cycling, range firing.

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Corporal Megan Norwood has been a cadet for four years with the Donnington Bridge Detachment.  Although originally she didn’t want to follow in her brother’s footsteps she now says that she loves being a cadet.  She said “I became a cadet because I wanted a new challenge, with the ACF I have achieved my silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and gained adult first aid qualifications. Camp gives us the opportunity to take in activities we don’t normally do and to take part in an exercise.”

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Polly Davey lives in Goring and parades with the Wallingford Detachment.  She said “Being a cadet gives you the chance to try new things and to get skills for life. At camp I have really enjoyed firing rifles on the ranges and the raft building challenge.”

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Lance Corporal James Bennett, Kidlington Detachment was taking part in Annual Camp for the second time. James said “I have been a cadet for 2 years. Camp is a great experience, it is fun and you are always busy with a routine, we have to get up early and keep things clean and tidy.” James is hoping to take a painting and decorating apprenticeship, and at the same time build his fitness levels with the ambition of joining the Parachute Regiment.

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Army Cadet Varisha Hussain who was experiencing Annual Camp for the first time said “Camp has been lots of fun so far and I have made lots of new friends. I have really enjoyed the bike riding today, the scenario training and sleeping out under a basha.

Varisha lives in Cowley and joined the Blackbirds Ley Detachment in October 2015, she said “I wanted to do something different. Cadets gives you lots to do and there is the chance to learn lots of new things.”

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Based with the Shrivenham Detachment, Cadet Beth Leo has been a cadet for almost a year. She was encouraged to join by her brother who got a job because of the skills he had acquired through the ACF. She said “This is my first time at camp and I am having a great time. Cadets is a great way of learning new skills that aren’t taught at school.”

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Sergeant Instructor Melissa Layden combines her Army Cadet instructor role with a busy life working as a healthcare assistant at a mental health unit. A former cadet, Melissa returned to the Blackbird Leys Detachment when she finished at university.

Melissa said “Becoming an instructor was a natural progression, particularly as my father was an instructor. The ACF is a brilliant environment, fun, gives you transferable skills, gets you out in the fresh air and gives your friends for life. I have met my two best friends and my partner through cadets.

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Donnington Bridge Cadets show off their skills

Sea Cadets and Army Cadets from Donnington Bridge in Oxford were keen to show the local community that they know how to spend their time during the summer hols.

Organised by Quebec Company of the Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force the evening consisted of both Sea Cadets and Army Cadets putting on displays and showing off their expertise in weapon handling, First Aid and survival in the field which included navigation and cooking.

The event was organised and planned by the Cadets themselves, which also demonstrated that the youngsters can organise and put on a great show!


Sea Cadets Chloe Harvey and Megan Boorman from Kidlington in Oxford – both girls go to Gosford Hill School. Chloe has only been in the Sea Cadets for a year and her friend Megan for two. Chloe has just qualified for the Southern Area Rowing competition. She said, “This weekend we are taking part in the Paddle Sports event which is over a 2K course – if we win we will go on to the nationals.” Megan said, “Being a Cadet offers so many different experiences that we wouldn’t get elsewhere.”


Demonstrating the Field Craft were Army Cadets from Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force based at Donnington Bridge.

L-R Cadet Travis Arnold from Cowley, Lance Corporal Tony Karaphannit from Headington, Lance Corporal Laoti Limbu (stood up) from Rose Hill, and Lance Corporal Aleaha Stuart also from Headington.


Testing out the field rations and learning to cook in the field. Travis Arnold who has been in the Cadets for a year and goes to North Field School in Oxford, and Lance Corporal Jacob Legg from Headington who goes to Cheney School.


Oscars for Cadets who are very good actors too!

Acting and simulating injuries and casualties can be very realistic, and help to bring reality to learning vital First Aid skills. Lewis Sherman 13 who had a broken arm, Callum Francis who had bad burns to his face, and Nick Watson who had glass embedded into his arm. Nick and Callum are new recruits to the Cadets and Callum who has only been in for 4 weeks said, “I have only just joined and it is great I love it.”


First Aid is a vital skill to learn, and the Army Cadet Force is committed to instructing Cadets in saving lives and treating serious injuries. Lance Corporal Laoti Limbu demonstrates how to give first aid to Nick Watson who has glass embedded into his arm.


The Lord Mayor of Oxford Councillor Mohammed Altaf-Khan visited the Cadets at Donnington Bridge during their open evening.

Showing the Mayor around the Stands were, Corporal Megan Norwood from Abingdon who has been in the cadets for 4 years. Megan is waiting on her exam results and hopes to go to Oxford Brooks to study Forensic Science in September and Bugler and Musician, Sergeant Instructor, member of the Corunna Band and Bugles, Michael Hankins.


Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 2 Clare Sands, who works for West Oxfordshire District Council is Captain of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Team. She showed off her team’s winning trophies during the opening evening.

The Oxford Cadet Clay Shot Gun Team have just won the 2016 Tri Cadet Services National Championships. Two teams of 4 from the Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force took part in the Championships in June which was held at the Cambridge Gun Club.

Clare who is an Adult Instructor said, “I have been Captain of the team for the last 3 years, we have competed for 8, so I am very proud of our achievement, all our training has paid off, we beat them all!”

Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion Army Cadet Force Open Evening and Sounding of Retreat (Part.2)

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Second Lieutenant Billy Canon (21) has been the Kidlington Detachment Commander for the last 9 months where he is responsible for 16 cadets. Billy says “It is rewarding to see cadets mature into young adults and to hear reports of how they have been able to put the skills they have acquired into practice.” Billy, who works for the NHS, enrolled as a Probationary Instructor and completed his Cadet Forces Instructional Technique in about 8 months. He says “Anyone interested in finding out more should talk to their local ACF detachment.”

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Lance Corporal Chloe Cookson (18) hopes to keep her connections with the ACF as an instructor when she becomes too old to be a cadet. Putting her life saving first aid skills into practice have resulted in Chloe receiving a St John Ambulance Certificate of Commendation, and a British Red Cross Humanitarian Citizen Award.

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Cadet Instructor Ian Rae (24) has played the bugle since the age of 12 when he joined The Corunna Band and Bugles as a cadet. Now working for Oxford Bus Company, he is keen to share what he learnt with the current generation of cadets. Ian said “Learning to play the bugle takes time, you can’t pick it up overnight. Anyone can blow but make a tune is painful on the lips. The ACF as a whole is a great opportunity for young to people to develop their abilities and to get a good foundation in life skills.”

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Tim Stevenson, Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire presented Oxford ACF Instructors with their long service medals. He said “Instructors make a very special contribution to the ACF. They teach cadets that to do your best and to deliver you have to be prepared to really grapple with the task in hand.”

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The Corunna Band and Bugles, Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion ACF Sounded Retreat at the Annual Open Evening and Reception hosted by Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion ACF on Saturday 14 May.

The Corunna Band and Bugles play at a number of prestigious events during the year including Oxford Remembrance Day Parade, Sandhurst Heritage Day, Henley Horse Show and mess functions. Kaz Raffael, Director of Music said “We currently have 11 playing cadet members and are always looking to recruit more. We are keen to welcome instructors who can support and help the cadets to develop their musicianship.”

Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion Army Cadet Force Open Evening and Sounding of Retreat



Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion ACF hosted their annual Reception and Sounding of Retreat on Saturday 14 May. Guests were entertained by the Corunna Band and Bugles, and had the opportunity to visit a number of stands where they found out more about cadet activities. They also watched a group of cadets from Nivelle Company carry out a field exercise which called for them to put their intelligence gathering and reconnaissance skills into practice.

Colonel Darren Bowyer, Commandant Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion ACF welcomed guests to the reception. He gave them an insight to Cadet activities, highlighting participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award by cadets and instructors. Currently 34 cadets are working for their Bronze Award, 16 for their Silver Award, and 5 adult instructors are working for their Gold Award. There has also been a drive to support sporting activities that sit outside those generally provided by schools including archery and target shooting. He also highlighted the development of first aid skills which cadets have been called to put into practice in real life situations.

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Second Lieutenant Mark Johnson has been an Adult Instructor for around 10 years and is the Oxfordshire County Shooting Officer. Mark says “Being an instructor is very different from my day job as a medical design engineer. I am responsible for organising shooting activities for the cadets and have recently taken a group on a week long course. It is fantastic to see cadets go from OK to fairly decent shots. For me being an instructor is a rewarding voluntary hobby.”


Probationary Instructor and former cadet, Lewis Norwood (19) is focused on promoting Oxfordshire ACF via the website and local media. Lewis says “I hope to qualify as an ACF Public Relations Officer and to continue to promote the benefits of the ACF to potential cadets and instructors. This role is completely different to my day job as an apprentice engineer at the Mini plant in Oxford.”


Regimental Sergeant Major and instructor Nicola Stanton (22) says that being a cadet gave her the confidence and team working and leadership skills to secure an apprenticeship with BMW. Now a qualified maintenance engineer, Nicola says “As a senior cadet, I really enjoyed instructing younger members of the detachment. I wanted to give something back to the organisation which has given so much to me. The ACF gave me the skills and confidence to secure my apprenticeship. I would recommend being an instructor to anyone, no experience is needed and the rewards of seeing cadets progress and grow are enormous.”

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Former Reservist and retired pharmacist, Major Paul Redwell has been a cadet instructor for 10 years. As Company Commander Nivelle Company, he says “I had never heard of the ACF until I saw a TV advert for cadet instructors and I thought that I would give it a go. When running my pharmacy business, I worked alongside many young people and enjoyed seeing them develop and grown into their role. I felt that with my background I could usefully contribute to the ACF.


Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion ACF compete in Archery Tournament

Last weekend members of the Oxfordshire (The Rifles) Battalion ACF competed in the Oxford University indoor archery tournament. This was the last tournament of the indoor season. All members of the battalion shot well.

Cpl M Norwood was first in the Junior Ladies Barebow with another solid 301/600. Corporal R Whiting was first in the Junior Gents Compound, miles ahead of the next archer, with a score of 515/600. Adult Under Officer Mundy was second in the Novice Ladies Recurve and shot a new personal best. Sergeant K Herbert was third in the Novice Gents Recurve, in his first competition, with a score of 429/600. Colour Sergeant J Royal was second in the gents compound with 551/600. The cadets like the OUIT because you get chocolate instead of trophies!


The 2015/2016 indoor season has now ended, members of the battalion have competed in 5 major tournaments: Oxfordshire County indoor tournament, Harlequins indoor tournament, Oxford University indoor tournament, National Junior indoor tournament and the National indoor tournament. They have competed in many categories including longbow, barebow, recurve and compound. They have retained 2 county titles – Junior Ladies Barebow and Junior Gents Compound.

The medal totals for the battalion this season are:

12 gold

3 silver

2 bronze

The battalion are now going into the outdoor season and are very excited about how things are shaping up. They have 6 archers already entered into Harlequins Dianna tournament and are likely to walk away with a couple of outdoor junior county titles. 

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Oxfordshire Army Cadet Force Annual Camp 2013

Annual Camp at Nesscliffe Camp

200 Oxfordshire cadets have recently returned from an interesting and enjoyable two week’s Annual Camp at Nesscliffe Camp near Shrewsbury.

It is the site of a war time ammunition depot, the training area is immediately accessible from the camp and has many building that help with training scenarios.

Visitors day to Oxfordshire Annual Camp.

Visitors day to Oxfordshire Annual Camp.

The weather was good, thus the challenge of last year’s Dartmoor micro climate was not repeated. On the first Thursday, 22 visitors came to see the cadets training, including the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Mr John Harwood DL, who presented two cadets, including Cdt RSM McLennan, with their BTEC certificates. Another visitor was Mr Cecil Jeffcoates, a WW2 Veteran who landed in Normandy by glider on 6 June 1966 as part of S Company 2nd Bn Oxf & Bucks Light Infantry, a predecessor of The Rifles. Both much enjoyed their visit.

Mr Cecil Jeffcoates comparing the LSW to the Bren he used to use

Mr Cecil Jeffcoates comparing the LSW to the Bren he used to use

The camp was again run as a Cadre camp and many APC star passes were achieved. The middle weekend saw the exercise phase with all cadres putting into practice the training of the preceding week. The Monday following was ‘chill out’ day, with the cadets visiting a theme park. The majority of the second week was a combination of the Inter-Company Skills Competition and some ‘fun’ activities, e.g. motor biking. The Inter-Company drill competition on the final Thursday saw each of the four companies trying to outshine each other with precision of their drill and smartness of their turn-out. The afternoon heralded the annual prize giving, with Quebec Company acquiring the biggest ‘haul’ of prizes. By Friday tired, yet happy and still cheerful cadets, and adults, were ready for the return trip to Oxfordshire.

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