Hereford Cathedral School has long been proud of its Combined Cadet Force which is the third oldest in the United Kingdom, having been founded as an Officer Training Corps in 1902 and later being reformed as a CCF Contingent in 1948, since then it has gone from strength to strength at the school, with a Contingent of 170 at the last count.
As a Contingent with a Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force Sections the parade takes place every Friday afternoon as well as taking part annually in Remembrance Parades in the town centre.
During these afternoons a range of cadet-led activities take place within the Three Services; this year's annual review will focus on the RAF Section.
Firstly however, the focus will remain on the senior service - the Royal Navy section. The Navy Section is currently led by Lieutenant Jasieniecka who is a teacher in the Art and Design & Technology departments at the school; her enthusiasm and drive ensure that the Navy Section remains afloat.
In 2012 the Royal Navy cadets went flying from HMS Yeovilton, scuba diving at HMS Collingwood and spent two nights on HMS Bristol. The Royal Navy also offers a vast array of camps and courses for cadets. These last from 2 to 10 days and cover activities and topics such as leadership, first aid, sailing and gliding.
During the Easter term six cadets visited RNAS Yeovilton, their activities included flying, diving and plenty of drill. The Section's SNCO is currently Coxswain James Evans, a keen and able member of the CCF who has attended almost every course available to him, setting a fantastic example to cadets.
The success of the CCF has not been limited strictly to the Royal Navy; the Army Section has had another good year with three Senior Cadets undergoing leadership training at Frimley Park all achieving a rating of 'Above average' - an exceptional achievement.
The Army Section is currently lead by Major Howells, who also a member of the Territorial Army. His military experience gives him a wealth of background knowledge that is thoroughly utilised by all. The Head of Section for the Army Section this year is Colour Sergeant Oliver Waters. C/Sgt Waters is a fitness fanatic and long standing member of the school rugby team, his active role as a leader within the section ensures that the turnout, as well as the standards, on every Parade are exemplary.
This year the Army section attended a 10 day camp over Easter at Sennybridge Training Area (SENTA). This camp included two military exercises on the training area in the snow! As well as 2 days on the range- including 25m Barrack Range, 800m Parallel Range, Electronic Target Range and the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer. Furthermore, the cadets went on a mountain walk along the Brecon Beacons led by Major Howells who is a JSML. The Adventure Training (AT) experience also included a day caving and gorge walking experience led by Call of the Wild. The Camp was an outstanding success and ended on a high with a formal black tie dinner in the mess.
In addition to all these activities the Army Section held weekend field craft exercises in order to allow them to develop their skills further than stated in the syllabus training, giving them more transferrable and adaptable skill sets.
As well as AT camps in North Wales, the Army Section runs an annual trip to the Pyrenees, for twelve days cadets undergo mountaineering activities, including white water rafting, caving as well as contributing to their Duke of Edinburgh award. C/Sgt Waters said "Definitely one of the best experiences that I've had through the CCF, I'd thoroughly recommend it to all members of the Contingent".
This year the RAF Section is led by Squadron Leader Howell, who is also the Contingent Commander " The CCF within HCS could not be done without the continued commitment and support of all the CCF staff and also the drive and ambition of the Cadet NCO's who week in and week out teach a varied and detailed program that inspire a younger generation to excel within the corps." Squadron Leader Howell was previously an Aircraft Technician in the RAF and as such has invaluable knowledge and skills at his disposal.
The SNCO IC of the Section for 2012/2013 is Flt Sgt Chloe Sansome, who last year, along with 4 other cadets, completed her Gliding Scholarship (GS), achieving Silver Wings after completing a solo circuit. "Being Head of Section is certainly a bigger challenge that I had anticipated, but I really enjoy it as it allows me to further develop my leadership skills, which is always useful!" As the Head of Section, Flt Sgt Sansome oversees the general running of the Section, including weekly inspections and helping to ensure that every cadet in the section has passed their Part 2 and Basic First Aid training.
As well as having many cadets go through the GS Scheme, there are also a few Air Cadet Leadership Course (ACLC) graduates. Including myself, our section has three distinction rated cadets; these are Cpl Sophie Hammond and Cpl Rae Williamson. "With no exaggeration the best week of my life, the leadership skills I gained from this experience will stay with me for a lifetime". HCS CCF can rightfully be proud of all currently serving cadets having achieved this challenging feat.
During the last term of 2012, cadets underwent a leadership course devised by myself and the then Head of CCF, CWO Michael Poolton. "Between myself and Flt Sgt Lossock, we agreed that the course was designed not to drop Cadets in at the deep end, but as a taster to leadership, giving them an insight in to the responsibilities they will hold in the future, all in all I think it was very successful and hopefully it will become a traditional part of the 5th Year Cadets' syllabus". The course was spread over five weeks and tested leadership ability, teamwork, standards in uniform, 'SMEAC' and the teaching of other cadets, as well as basic field craft; this culminated in a cadet led activity which I devised to take place at the school's playing fields. The exercise required the cadets to use different types of movement through the field as well as compass use and initiative tests in the form of the aversion of several sentries.
During 2012 the CCF had its biennial review, the reviewing officer was Commander Wilson-Chalon; Officer Commanding 818 Squadron. CWO Michael Poolton led the Contingent commendably, with a full inspection taking place, being followed by different activities by each section. Fortunately, Commander Chalon was also able to arrange for a Lynx helicopter to fly into the school to fly several cadets, LCpl Oliver Hunt, of the RAF Section said "It was an amazing experience and one that I am very grateful for, many thanks to 818 Squadron!"
2012 was an exceptional year for the RAF Section; not only was CWO Michael Poolton a fantastic Head of CCF, but Flt Sgt Jessie Powell was awarded a Geoffrey de Havilland Foundation Flying Medal, placing her as the top female cadet in the country and the second overall. Flt Sgt Powell had also achieved Gold Wings at her local VGS (633 VGS, Cosford) and completed the ACPS as well; she was also the winner of 'Best Cadet' on ACLC 88 as well as helping to set up the annual fundraising dinner for the RAFA, which this year raised over £300. She leaves the section with our best wishes for her future, in which she aims to pursue a career in the RAF.
A CCF mountain bike expedition in Scotland led by the SSI Captain Smith took cadets from all three sections for a 6 day ride through Seven Staines on the contingent's mountain bikes. A taxing but enjoyable time was had by all.
2013 looks set to be another fantastic year for the Contingent, with an intake of 90 cadets, new opportunities will arise both for the new cadets and those who serve on a voluntary basis. The CCF has gone from strength to strength at HCS in recent years and I hope for the sake of the new cadets and those who haven't yet experienced the CCF that it carries on in the way it is for many years to come.
A final word from one of Hereford Cathedral School's biggest advocates, the Headmaster Paul Smith: "The CCF is a vitally important component of the School's extra-curricular provision. Not only does it provide important opportunities for teamwork and leadership, but it also helps develop essential life skills such as perseverance, determination, commitment and self-discipline.
I particularly value the role our CCF plays in instilling a sense of duty and service to the wider community. Cadets learn significant lessons in self-evaluation, and the CCF is one of the few areas of school life which encourages coeducational collaboration and participation across year groups".
Report written by HCS CCF Contingent Cadet Warrant Officer George B-Lossock