Two Trustees Step Down

Posted on 5th April, 2024

Malcolm Sperring-Toy, a successful businessman with a long career in the travel business,  joined the Board of Trustees in 2017. Amongst other things, in recent years, Malcolm undertook a great deal of the organisational responsibility for the annual Regimental Dinner and organised the accommodation arrangements for the Trustees visits to the S&WM(NS)ACF annual camp. Malcolm is pictured left with the guest speaker at the Friends Regimental Dinner 2024, Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam


Martin Dodd, a successful financial consultant, joined the Board of Trustees in 2019 and has provided sound financial advice throughout his tenure. Martin, pictured right, now spends more of his time pursuing his interest of sailing the high seas and on international travel.

The trustees are grateful for the support the Trust has received from both Martin and Malcolm and wish them both every success in the future. Both have indicated that they wish to continue to support the work of the Friends Trust albeit from afar.


The Friends Cadet of the Year Awards 2024

Posted on 24th March, 2024

Thanks to the kind generosity of Mr Bobby Dhanjal of BDWM Wealth Management, the Friends have recently awarded the Friends of S&WM(NS)ACF Trust Company Cadet of the Year to four of our outstanding cadets, one from each of the Companies that make up the S&WM(NS)ACF.

The winners were chosen, from over 900 eligible ACF Cadets, by the Senior Officers against the following criteria:-

  • Acts of exceptional good citizenship within the previous calendar year
  • Significant contribution to the positive reputation of the S&WM(NS)ACF
  • Overcoming of significant barriers to progression within the S&WM(NS)ACF
  • Achieved exceptional progression within the S&WM(NS)ACF

The winners of these awards were announced at a recent event held at the ACF Headquarters at Beaconside, Stafford to which parents/guardians were invited to hear the citations for each being read out. The presentation were made by the S&WM(NS)ACF Commandant, Col Chris Edwards, and the Chair of the Friends Trust, Mr Graham Morley.

The winners of the Friends of S&WM(NS)ACF Trust Company Cadet of the Year Award 2024 are:-

  • Company A – Cadet Liam Walker
  • Company B – Cadet Cpl Eva Jacques
  • Company C – Cadet SSgt Maddie Dennis
  • Company D – Cadet Dean Mitchell-James

From L to R: Commandant Col Edwards, Cdt Cpl Eva Jaques, Cdt Sgt Maddie Dennis and Cdt Liam Walker

Cdt Dean Mitchell-James being presented with his award by SMI Walker











Each of these cadets received a cheque for £100 and each will be presented to the entire ACF troop at the forthcoming annual camp in August.

From these four outstanding cadets, a County Cadet of the Year was chosen as the cadet who has above all others met the above criteria and who is a leading example of all that being a S&WM(NS)ACF Cadet entails. The County Cadet of the year is announced at the Friends annual regimental dinner and the award presented by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson.

The Friends of S&WM(NS)ACF Trust County Cadet of the Year 2024 is Cadet Staff Sergeant M Dennis, pictured left with the Commandant Col Edwards and the Chair of the Friends Trust, Mr G Morley, who receives a further £100 plus an iPad.

Annual Regimental Dinner 2024

Posted on 11th December, 2023

The Trustees are pleased to announce that the Annual Regimental Dinner 2023 will be held at Potters Club, Station Road, Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday 23rd March 2024.

The evening starts at 6:30pm with a drinks reception, sponsored by Ansons Solicitors, during which guests will be free to mingle and chat to Friends old and new before being called to dinner at 7:00pm. During the meal guests will enjoy a performance from the Staffordshire and West Midlands (North Sector) Army Cadet Force Drum Corps along with short presentations from local Cadets who described the positive impact that being in the Army Cadets has had on their lives.

Our after-dinner speaker this year featured regularly on our TV screens during the recent pandemic, Colonel Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam MBE. Whilst we all appreciated his voice of reason through that difficult period, what is less well known is that he is a former Army Cadet Force Medical Officer, serving for 12 years and awarded an MBE for his design of medical response equipment for cadets taking part in arduous activities. JVT, as he is popularly known, was knighted in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to public health. He is Senior Strategy Adviser for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham and is Honorary Colonel for Medical Support within the national ACF as well as Honorary Colonel to 306 Hospital Support Regiment. He describes the ACF as a superb organisation, committed to happy, healthy, and active older children who can get a real taste of adventure, activity, challenge, self-discipline, self-reliance, leadership and camaraderie, in a safe and safeguarded environment.

Guests will be able to enjoy a multi-course meal, sponsored by Staffordshire University, expertly prepared and served by the professional team at the Potters Club, served with selected wines sponsored by Whitebridge Wines and finished off with a selection of cheeses with Taylors LBV Port, kindly sponsored in conjunction with long-established wine merchants Mentzendorff.

This annual event truly is a night not to be missed by those who enjoy something a little bit special. It also has the added benefit of making a positive contribution to the lives of the young people and adult volunteers in your local Army Cadet Force.

Thanks to the kind generosity of our sponsors, the cost of this special event is £85 per person. There has already been a high level of interest in this event so if you wish to attend, please click on this link to email as soon as possible indicating how many people wishing to attend. The Chair will then either send you a booking form with payment details or, if numbers exceed capacity, will advise you that you have been placed on a waiting list.

Cadets pay their respects at Remembrance Sunday 2023

Posted on 12th November, 2023

The Staffordshire and West Midlands (North Sector) Army Cadet Force (S&WM(NS)ACF) were in attendance at the Wreath Laying Ceremony that took place on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November 2023 in the county town, Stafford. The Commandant, Col Edwards, laid the wreath on behalf of the S&WM(NS)ACF at the Borough cenotaph and Major Easterbrook laid the wreath at the County cenotaph.

Following the laying of the wreaths, the S&WM(NS)ACF Corps of Drums led the parade through the centreof Stafford, where the Vice Lord-Lieutenant took the salute. The parade also incorporated our Stafford Detachment, led by Major Easterbrook, who marched along with the units from the British Army, Royal Air Force and other civilian groups.

S&WM(MS)ACF Drum Major becomes National Drum Major

Posted on 4th November, 2023

Drum Major Pickering from Uttoxeter detachment of the Staffordshire & West Midlands (North Sector) Army Cadet Force went on a national camp to complete his 4-Star Music Army Cadet Sylabus. Part of the 4-star syllabus is the Drum Major/Staff Drill element. This is designed to take Drum Majors from a basic knowledge to some quite complex movements. At the end of this training, the cadets are tested with a drill sequence. DMaj Pickering scored the highest out of the cadre, closely followed by Corporal Horne, also from Uttoxeter, meaning that Staffordshire & West Midlands had two out of the five cadets in the Senior Drum Major competition.

For this competition, DMaj Pickering had to commit to memory a complex sequence and lead a corps of drums with precision whilst being judged against very strict criteria including the precise point he stopped the music and moved to the next tune! DMaj Pickering came first in this intense competition which means that he is now not only the County Drum Major but also the National Senior Drum Major, the most senior Drum Major in the whole of the Army Cadet Force. In this role, he will be leading a national corps of drums at national events. His knowledge and skill will also be called upon during the next music camp to help run and assist the Drill wing, where he will teach and coach the Drum Majors course.

Trustees Appoint Ian Fitzjohn as Trustee

Posted on 11th October, 2023

The trustees are pleased to welcome Ian Fitzjohn onto the Board of Trustees. Ian was appointed at the Trustee Board meeting held on 10th October 2023.

Ian is a lifetime resident of Staffordshire and has a wealth of experience gained from a long career as a Corporate Relationship Director at Lloyds Bank covering Staffordshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands. He currently works with Ansons Solicitors across their four offices in Cannock, Lichfield, Dudley and Sutton Coldfield. Ian is also active in volunteering for Sanja which has raised significant amounts for Staffordshire based charities.

Welcome to Colonel Chris Edwards OBE TD FIFST VR

Posted on 10th October, 2023

The Friends Trustees welcomed the appointment of Colonel Chris Edwards OBE TD FIFST VR who takes up the role of Commandant of Staffordshire and West Midlands (North Sector) Army Cadet Force as from September 2023.

Colonel Chris Edwards OBE TD FIFST joined the Royal Corps of Signals in the Territorial Army in 1985 and was Commissioned from Sandhurst the following year. His distinguished Territorial Army/Army Reserve career includes numerous deployments in senior Command roles and he experienced active service in Bosnia. He became an Officer of the British Empire in 2007 and has specific skills in delivering capability in barracks and the field Communication and IT systems. His 40-year civilian career has been spent in the food manufacturing industry. He was a senior leader in a Further Education establishment where, amongst other things he was responsible for the building of a new £5M manufacturing plant. He currently holds a senior executive position in a multi-national food manufacturing company.

One of the first actions of Col Edwards was to reach out to the Friends to learn more about what we do and how we do it. The Trustees are delighted that he intends to fully support the Friends Trust during his tenure and we look forward to working closely over the coming months and years.

Colonel Simon Donegan Steps Down

Posted on 30th September, 2023

The tenure of the current Commandant, Colonel Simon Donegan, came to an end in September 2023. The Trustees are indebted to Col Donegan for the support he has provided to the Friends Trust throughout his time in charge.

Col Donegan’s leadership was particularly demanding as a result of the Covid Pandemic which happened during his tenure. Not unlike many cadet services across the country, there was a significant fall in the number of cadets and adult volunteers engaged with the Staffordshire and West Midland (North Sector) Army Cadet Force. Being unable to meet in person created serious leadership challenges that have been overcome with numbers of both cadets and adult volunteers back up to pre-pandemic levels.

At their annual camp in Oakhamption Battle Camp, the Friends witnessed him taking the salute, at the request of the Lord-Lieutenant, after which they expressed their gratitude for all he has done by forming a guard of honour for his final act before heading off to pastures new.

As with all previous Commandants, Colonel Donegan will maintain his connection with the Friends Trust and we look forward to receiving his advice and guidance. Trustees presented Col Donegan, and his wife Clare, a small gift as thanks for his support of the Friends and we wish him, and Clare, every success for the future.

The Friends visit Annual Camp 2023

Posted on 31st August, 2023

Trustees and other ‘Friends’, including our Patron the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire Mr Ian Dodson CBE KStJ, had the pleasure of a visit to the Staffordshire & West Midlands (North Sector) Army Cadet Force annual camp which took place at Oakhampton Battle Camp, 18th – 26th August 2023. During the camp, Cadets undertook a wide range of training, developing individual, team and leadership skills which they practice across a range of activities.

The ‘Friends’ started their visit with a presentation and discussion about the current challenges faced by adult volunteers andcadetsduring which we became much more aware of the welfare needs of our adults and cadets. It was pleasing, yet sobering, to hear that forty-eight cadets would not have been able to attend the camp without the financial support of the Friends. This is much higher than pre-pandemic levels and the Trustees agreed a commitment to review the criteria that governs what they financially support.

Following lunch with the Cadets, Adult Volunteers and Officers, the Friends observed training activities designed to promote teamwork and leadership skills and in the evening they attended a Mess Dinner at the invitation of the Commandant.

On the the final day, the Friends enjoyed watching the final drill competitions prior to the annual prize-giving and a moving drum-head ceremony.

Staffordshire Living

Posted on 10th May, 2023

A short article related to the 2023 Annual Regimental Dinner is now available on the Staffordshire Living online magazine. The article can be found by clicking HERE 

Photographs that accompany this article were all taken by Luke Keen of KeenPhotography.