Posted on 12th December, 2018
Some years ago I was asked by a long-standing friend, Graham Stow, now President of the Friends of the Staffordshire & West Midlands Army Cadet Force to become a ‘Friend’.
At the time I was heavily involved in both my work as a travel advisor and other charitable organisations in my home town of Leek and across the county and I decided that adding a further commitment was not sensible. Big mistake!
One of my principal interests is the military and political history of the Great War and the Battles of the Somme in particular. Since the late 1980’s I have been visiting the 1916 Somme battlefields either as an individual, with friends and also escorting school and adult groups usually on four-day tours. Although now well read on the actions of 1916 along with the topography of the British Front Line and rear areas, one learns of additional new information on every visit.
Being aware of my knowledge and many visits to the Somme, my friend Graham Stow who also shares the same interest and knowledge of the Battles of the Somme asked me to organise a group visit by Cadets to the battlefields which was arranged for the October half-term of 2015. The group consisted of 28 male and female Cadets from each of the four Companys and 9 Officers/NCO’s.
Having no previous connection of knowledge of the structure of the Army Cadet Force I very quickly began to appreciate what a wonderful organisation it was. I saw young people aged from 11 to 18 years being taught respect, self-discipline, manners and a concern for their community. These valuable attributes were in addition to experiencing comradeship, development of leadership skills and of course, the opportunity of field adventures such as rock climbing, canoeing, target shooting and field exercises at the annual summer camp. The cadet force is open and gives support to young people from all backgrounds and financial standing.
Even perhaps more importantly, through the fund-raising efforts of the Trustee’s and ‘Friends’ and the supporters, we offer Further Educational opportunities to older and deserving cadets in the form of support such as financial bursary’s to those who wish to improve their education but do not have any access to funding for such things as fees, books or travel to further education establishments.
The Army Cadet Force is described by many as ‘The World’s Greatest Youth Club’ and I can certainly now see why and can fully commend support of this wonderful organisation.
Malcolm Sperring-Toy – November 2018
Footnote: If you would like to be considered as a Trustee, please contact our Chairperson