Over the last two months the Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadet Association has awarded dedicated volunteers, throughout the counties of the South West, the coveted HM Lord-Lieutenant’s Commendation for Meritorious Service. The most recent was held in Dorset where five of the county’s most outstanding volunteers received the prestigious accolade at a ceremony held at the Queen Elizabeth’s School in Wimborne Minster.

The awards, given annually by Dorset’s Lord-Lieutenant, honour the commitment many individuals make to the county’s Reserve and Cadet Forces’. Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers, appointed as the Queen’s representative in the county, presented the accolades. Amongst those receiving the awards were:

  • Reverend Paul MacCarty, 77, from Christchurch has been the padre of the 130 (Bournemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps (ATC) for over 35 years. A key member of the Squadron radio communications team, Paul provides instruction to cadets and staff, and dedicates a lot of his free time operating radio networks for Squadron and Wing events, including adventure training on Dartmoor. Paul is also responsible for the management of the unit vehicles, ensuring that they are always available as required. His Commanding Officer commented: “Paul’s unstinting efforts and continued generosity of time is crucial to the on-going success of the ATC”.
  • Corporal Aaron Parsonage, 36, has served with 6th Battalion The Rifles – C Company for over 12 years. From Dorchester, Aaron is the Company Chef, a vital role to the unit ensuring that all soldiers are well fed for their training. Often required to work under challenging conditions, whether it’s very early morning or late at night, Aaron will often use his own spare time to ensure that the Company is well catered for. Serving at home and on deployment in overseas operations, Aaron is always prepared to go the extra mile. Commenting on his achievements, his Commanding Officer said: “Aaron is the archetypal TA soldier; professional, multi-skilled, good-natured and utterly dependable”.
  • Seargeant Alison Walker, 38, is a long-standing member of The Royal Wessex Yeomanry. As one of only two medics in the unit Allison, from Weymouth has proved invaluable to the Yeomanry. Alison’s role includes conducting medical examinations, mentoring trainee medics, supporting training events and training many Combat Team Medics – a vital qualification on the battlefield. Alison also involves herself heavily with fundraising for charity. A keen long distance runner, Alison ran the 2012 London Marathon and has also taken part in various ‘Ironman’ competitions, raising over £2000 this year alone for charities including The Not Forgotten (Veterans) Association and Julia’s House Hospice. Speaking of her achievements, her Commanding Officer said: “Allison is exemplary and thoroughly deserves recognition for her dedication to improving the lives of those around her”.
  • Mr Timothy Bunce, 78, from Bournemouth is an essential member of the 130 (Bournemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps (ATC) Civilian Welfare Committee. The roles of these Committees aren’t usually in the public eye, but are vital to ensure that the units run effectively. As treasurer of the committee for over 25 years, Timothy goes far beyond his call, attending the unit’s weekly training sessions to ensure that the staffhave the funds that they need for training, and involving himself in community events. His Commanding Officer commented: “Timothy has played a key role behind the scenes for many years, ensuring the on-going success of the Squadron”.
  • Flight Lieutenant Roger Starling, 65, from Wareham has served with the Air Training Corps (ATC) for over 40 years. A member of the Dorset & Wiltshire ATC, Roger is currently Media Communications Officer, overseeing a period of rebuilding and strengthening cadet numbers at the Squadron. Roger has dramatically increased the media profile of the wing, and is also a key member for organising the wing’s involvement in community projects, most notably the Bournemouth Air Festival. Commenting on Roger’s award, his Commanding Officer said: “Roger is a highly committed individual, whose continuing exceptional contributions to the wing have resulted in a strong public profile for the ATC”.

Brigadier Tony Dalby-Welsh, Chief Executive of the Wessex Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, comments: “Each recipient of the Lord-Lieutenants’ Award is a credit to Dorset and should be proud of their outstanding achievements. These people are excellent examples of the commendable contribution volunteers make to their local community. Without the efforts of volunteers, it would be impossible to offer such a valuable service to the region.”

Other award recipients:

Captain Jonathan Hughes D’Aeth – Milton Abbey School Combined Cadet Force


The ceremony also included the appointment of four young people as the Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadets for the next year. As part of their role, they will accompany Mrs Anthony Pitt-Rivers on her official engagements. The following individuals were chosen on their merits within the cadet force, but also for their dedication and work within the local community:

  • Petty Officer Cadet Rebecca Adams, 17, serves as a member of the Poole Sea Cadet Unit. Through her time at the Naval training establishment Rebecca has received various First Aid and Physical Training qualifications as well as proving herself to be highly skilled in sailing, power boating, rowing and kayaking. The Poole based cadet regularly volunteers for training and teaching roles, proving herself to be a role model to other cadets in the unit. Rebecca hopes to go on from her current 6th form studies to embark on a successful career in the Royal Navy. Her Commanding Officer said: “Rebecca takes real pride in her role and is a real credit to the unit”.
  • Cadet Staff Sergeant Georgia Newton, 17, has been member of the Blandford Troop Dorset Army Cadet Force for over four years and has progressed rapidly through her training, proving herself as a role model to her fellow cadets. The Whitechurch based cadet was nominated as top cadet on her Senior Cadet Instructors Course and now has her sights on courses in cadet leadership at national level. Her Commanding Officer commented on Georgia’s accolade, “Georgia is a first rate cadet with good, natural leadership skills and consistently proves to be an excellent ambassador for the County and the Army Cadet Force.”
  • Cadet Colour Serjeant Conor Maher, 17, joined the Lytchett Matravers Detachment of the Dorset Army Cadet Force in 2009. Since then the local cadet has attained Army Proficiency Certificates from basic to four star level. As well as achieving the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s award, he has also completed the nationally recognised First Aid-at-Work qualification. Conor is fully committed to the detachment and shows consistent professionalism in his approach to all activities and tasks. The knowledge and skills he has gained through his time with the unit has made him a highly competent leader and cadet supervisor.
  • Cadet Corporal Hamish Gardner, 16, from Winchester, is a dedicated member of the Milton Abbey Combined Cadet Force. His approach to academic matters is highlighted by his role as a member of his school’s council. Hamish was recently elected Head of the Round Square School Committee that promotes democracy, adventure, environment and leadership. He is currently working towards his Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award and was team leader of 2011 Junior Ten Tors expedition. Speaking of Hamish, his Commanding Officer said: “His dedication, commitment and ability are a credit to him. Hamish has already proved himself to be a very valuable asset to this unit.”

Reserve Forces