Cornwall’s Army Cadets are soon to have a new County Training Centre (CTC), 10 years after the closure of Penhale Camp left them without a ‘hub’ for their major training activities.
The CTC, which is handily located just 15 minutes’ drive from the A30 near Newquay, is expected to welcome its first Cadets in the autumn.
With nearly £1 million in public funds invested in repurposing and modernising the self-contained former MoD site next to RAF St Mawgan, it will provide overnight accommodation for up to 105 cadets and adult volunteers.
Wessex RFCA has coordinated the scheme’s public financing as well as managing the design and construction. A major requirement has been to upgrade the electrical supply to the site.
As well as multi-purpose rooms, offices, stores, a fully equipped kitchen and a dining room that doubles as a large classroom, the buildings include a wet room and other easy-access facilities for any youngsters or cadet instructors with disabilities.
Nicola Johns, Head of Estates at Wessex RFCA, said that the RFCA’s approach in accommodating the needs of cadets with disabilities was to go further than just fulfilling the legal requirements.
She said: “We want to make disabled and trans-gender cadets and adult volunteers comfortable and welcome so that they feel part of the group, and not in any way isolated.”
A grassed area above the CTC offers a safe and secure space for camping, which will be attractive to community groups and clubs who wish to hire the venue when it is not needed by the Army Cadet Force (ACF) or the wider military.
She added: “This is now a Wessex RFCA asset, which we will manage on behalf of Cornwall ACF. The Centre will be available for hire by other organisations in the military family – and also in the civilian community through our ‘Alternative Venues’ hiring scheme.”
The ACF is a youth organisation sponsored by the Army, so Colonel Andrew Dawes, Commander South West, has been closely involved in the project.
He said: “It’s coming together nicely, with all the facilities that enable us to have a free-standing, self-sustaining centre here.
“This has been on our radar for a while. The people of Cornwall have been patiently waiting for this, so it’s great to be able to put it in place. It’s taken a lot of hard work from myself and Wessex RFCA specifically, the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, not to mention the contractors, InterCity Build UK.”
He added: “A facility like this doesn’t come cheap – we all knew that. But given that the cadets have gone ten years without it, this is good value for money, especially when you look at the flexibility of accommodation and the outdoor space as well.
“All we need now is to have young people here to breathe life into the place.”