Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force offers virtual training during coronavirus lockdown

Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force ‘keeps the flame alive’ during lockdown. Cadet sergeant Charlie Rice

Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force ‘keeps the flame alive’ during lockdown. Cadet sergeant Charlie Rice taking part in virtual training at home. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE ARMY CADET FORCE - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force’s No.1 (Hereward) Company is offering virtual training to its members during the coronavirus lockdown.

No.1 (Hereward) Company has nine local detachments, including Wisbech. The company’s commanding officer, Major Lesley Deacon, was determined to find a way to continue to offer training to her cadets whilst they are unable to meet together physically.

Major Deacon worked with Sergeant Major Pete Hockey and Major Benn Morris to set up the use of Microsoft Teams, an online live-stream audio and video hub.

Major Morris, a cyber security expert who runs his own business, has created a centralised Teams account that has been ‘locked’ to ensure that all safeguarding requirements have been met.

Every adult and cadet has a unique login generated from this centralised account.

Douglas Stuart, of the force, said: “With the beginning of the lockdown, the cadets lost not only their weekly parade night, but also the important social contact and support the cadet force provides.”

The company is now offering weekly virtual training nights that are continuing the Army Proficiency Certificate (APC) activities that they would have undertaken at detachments.

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Having received prior instructor training, senior cadets are then chosen to design, prepare and deliver lessons themselves. The new training enables cadets to develop skills through making virtual presentations.

Major Deacon said: “The enthusiasm of the senior cadets who have taken to this training has been amazing, as has the dedication of the Company Headquarters team and all of the instructors who have worked hard in their own time to continue to provide the cadet experience.

“Because of this commitment, No.1 Company has had more than 90 cadets and 23 adult instructors taking part in the online training every week. I would like to thank my team for their enthusiasm and professionalism, especially during these difficult times.”

Cadet Lance Corporal Mitchell Crosby said: “The virtual cadet nights are a great way for us to interact and learn while keeping a fun atmosphere.”

Cadet Cameron Whitehead said: “The virtual parade nights are a very good way to make sure that we all stay connected and learn the things we love.”

Cadet Sergeant Charlie Rice said: “The virtual parade nights are a good way to interact … to deliver just as high a level of training as you would receive at detachment, and are a good way to keep in touch with friends.”

Sergeant Instructor Rylan Ray praised the new way of working, saying: “Microsoft Teams has proven to be an incredible resource for us to engage with our cadets and keep the flame alive.

“It has allowed us to provide the cadets and adult volunteers with something to look forward to in the week, offering them the chance to socialise and continue elements of their training, supporting their mental health and their personal development.”

The Army Cadet Force is for boys and girls from Year 8 onwards, aged between 12 and 18 years old, which aims to inspire young people through achievement, confidence-building and developing leadership skills.

Cambridgeshire will start recruiting again as soon as the lockdown is lifted: