Longleat House provided a stately backdrop as 36 Army Cadet Force adult volunteers from across the Wessex region received the new Queen’s Cadet Force Commission in an historic ceremony.
Family, friends and visitors joined them to celebrate the occasion as Major General John Crackett CB TD DL VR, Director of Reserves, first inspected and then presented newly-commissioned officers with their CFAV insignia.
Viscount Weymouth, chairman of Longleat Enterprises Ltd, and Brigadier (ret’d) Steve Hodder, chief executive of Wessex Reserve Forces & Cadets Association, assisted the General in the investiture ceremony.
The commissioning parade was led by the Band of the Royal Artillery, accompanied by the Silver Bugles of Somerset ACF, Devon ACF Corps of Drums and Wiltshire ACF Corps of Drums.
The commission for officers of the cadet organisations, approved by Her Majesty The Queen, was introduced at the end of 2017 and is the first of its kind for 155 years.
In his address to those gathered in the sunshine in front of Longleat House, General Crackett paid tribute to nearly 30,000 adult instructors who dedicate their spare time to instructing some 130,000 uniformed cadets around the UK.
He told them: “You are absolutely the centre of gravity of the cadet forces.
“We know that cadet training does not just ‘happen’. All those training nights, weekends and camps, aren’t thrown together at the last minute. It’s the product of your professionalism and your enthusiasm and long hours you put in to gain qualifications to organise and administer training.”
Thanking them on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, he said: “Today you’ve been invested in the Queen’s Cadet Force Commission. It recognises you very specifically as national youth leaders and role models. I hope you’re proud of that. We’re certainly proud of you.”
General Crackett stressed the benefits of the Cadet experience – to Cadets themselves, to future employers and to society as a whole.
“We’ve got a common vision that will develop and inspire cadets, make sure that they can be fulfilled as individuals and be the best people that they can be. Adult volunteers are absolutely the key to all this and we are going to try and look after you.”
The commissioning event was one of the highlights of Longleat 18, a community engagement weekend organised by the Army in conjunction with Longleat Enterprises Ltd.