Three talented teenage cadets from Doncaster, Leah Halkett, Victoria Whitfield and Shaun Allen have been awarded the prestigious appointment of Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet – the highest honour in the Cadets.
The certificates were presented to Petty Officer Halkett, 17, Company Sergeant Major Whitfield, 18, and Flight Sergeant Allen, 18, by Mr David Moody, Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, at a ceremony held at Scarbrough Barracks in Doncaster.
The accolade means all three cadets now hold the position of Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for South Yorkshire.
Having joined Doncaster Sea Cadets aged 11, Leah has been the mainstay of the unit for over six years, and now aged 17 has risen to the highest rank in the Sea Cadets of Petty Officer. Showing determined leadership and loyalty, particularly over the last three years when the unit has been struggling with enough volunteer adult instructors, Leah has made significant contributions to the running of the unit, including taking on the responsibility of managing the Junior Sea Cadet section. This she does with great enthusiasm, maturity and determination, bringing a new lease of life to the juniors’ training, and drawing on her own experiences of six years in the cadets, which includes trips on power vessel TS John Jerwood and the Sea Cadet Corps flagship TS Royalist.
Reflecting on the ceremony and her new role as ambassador for the Sea Cadet Corps in South Yorkshire, Leah, who attends Doncaster College, said: “I joined the sea cadets because my mum thought it would be a good idea. I will never forget my first time, I was terrified of all these older people parading around the unit so smart and seaman-like. But that’s also when I fell in love with cadets because I knew at that moment that’s what I wanted to be like, and that is what I aimed for. This is the one award that I always dreamed of getting as a younger cadet and I can’t believe I now have the honour of receiving it. It is a dream come true and I am so proud to be setting an example to other cadets, but also proving that dreams and goals can come true.”
Currently holding the role of Senior Cadet of Doncaster detachment, Victoria is described as an outstanding cadet who approaches her responsibilities with the utmost professionalism, demonstrating sound leadership skills. Respected by cadets and staff alike, Victoria is working towards Master Cadet status as well as the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Always demonstrating great commitment and enthusiasm throughout her six years in the cadets, Victoria has participated in all aspects of cadet life, improving herself in both personal ability and character, in addition to qualifications which will stand her in good stead throughout life, including the St John Ambulance First Qualification and a BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Public Services.
At the ceremony, Victoria said: “I feel very proud to have been given this award, and it is very nice to know I have been noticed for all my hard work over the years. My family is incredibly proud and I’m looking forward to representing the Army Cadets as the South Yorkshire Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet.”
An air cadet for over four years, Shaun has in that time become a valuable member of 2008 (Bawtry) Squadron, providing great assistance to the commanding officer and staff in the unit. In addition to instructing younger cadets, he also mentors his peers and leads them effectively. A Master Air Cadet, who has completed his Instructor (Staff) Cadet qualification, Shaun also hopes to work towards his Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at the end of the year. He learnt to fly at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, flying solo at only 16. He has always shown great commitment and dedication to the cadets, whether that is to help himself develop as a person and taking advantage of the many activities available to cadets, or to the benefit of his squadron ad competing in sports such as football, badminton, athletics and swimming, and winning several medals at wing level. Shaun is also a great community supporter, and has raised funds for local and national charities ranging from the Royal British Legion to the British Heart Foundation.
Of his award, Shaun, who attends Hayfield School in Doncaster, said: “It is a great honour and privilege to be deemed worthy of this award. Although, I can’t forget the network of support from the staff who dedicate their time for us, and of course the cadets themselves, and not least of all a special mention for my family, who have believed in me from the moment I joined cadets.”
Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Bleasdale, Deputy Chief Executive of the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) in Yorkshire and the Humber which runs the awards, commented: “The Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate is a prestigious award that recognises cadets who have performed above expectations. I’m delighted for these three cadets who are shining examples of what can be achieved when young people involve themselves in extra-curricular activities.”
Colonel Bleasdale also appealed for more adult volunteers to support the region’s 8,500 cadets: “The cadet movement is one of the most prestigious youth organisations in the world, and its popularity means we need more adult instructors to lead the cadets and deliver the quality of experiences, adventure and community projects which our cadets enjoy. We would love to hear from people who are willing to offer their time and enthusiasm to join our ranks as an Adult Instructor – no military experience is needed.”
The three cadets were among only 12 cadets selected from a total of 8,500 across the whole Yorkshire and Humber region to be awarded the Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate, which is presented as a mounted scroll. All cadets are between 10 and 18 years of age and can be part of the Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force or Air Training Corps.
For more information about the cadet movement, or to enquire about becoming an adult volunteer, visit the Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association website at: www.rfca-yorkshire.org.uk.