An open night was held at Belford St Mary’s Middle School last week, heralding the welcome return of an Army Cadet Force unit to Belford after an absence of over a year.
The once-thriving detachment was forced to close due to the lack of available adult instructors, with existing members having to travel to Berwick or Alnwick to continue their cadet careers.
Sergeant Instructor Louise Donaldson and her daughter Lois, who both live in Seahouses, will command and run the new operation.
Lois has just completed six years as a cadet, achieving the second highest cadet rank possible, that of Company Sergeant Major.
She is about to complete her transfer training and become a fully-fledged Cadet Force Adult Volunteer (CFAV). As a very recent cadet, she well knows the many exciting opportunities available to the youngsters.
Belford Detachment of Northumbria Army Cadet Force was originally founded in 1996 and was based in the then Youth Centre in the fire-station yard. At that time, youth facilities in the village included Scouts and a youth club, but, despite that, the initial recruit intake was 17 youngsters aged from 13 to 17. The recruiting age now is 12 to 18.
Over the years, the detachment had great successes and, although it is not the aim, several members went on to careers in the regular armed forces, such as Gina Simpson who has become one of the youngest ever Warrant Officers in the British Army. In more recent times, it had the honour of providing the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet – local county councillor Guy Renner-Thompson.
The new detachment will be parading every Tuesday night at the middle school from 7pm to 9pm. It is hoped, after the setting-up period, that parade nights will be increased to two a week. Potential cadets (and parents) are invited to drop in and discuss the great opportunities on offer at any time on those nights. Adults who may consider joining as CFAVs are also very welcome.