From Platoon Commander to ace fund-raiser and even tug-of-war instructor, Stephen Smith, a Gloucester fire and security engineer, has made a huge impact on the Army Cadet Force in the city.
His Cadets will have been thrilled when the 46-year-old Colour Serjeant was presented with the Lord-Lieutenant’s Certificate of Meritorious Service by Dame Janet Trotter DBE during ceremonies held in the officers’ mess at Allied Rapid Reaction Corps headquarters in Gloucester.
Stephen’s links with the ACF at Eastern Avenue are extra special – because that’s exactly where he paraded as a schoolboy in the early 1980s.
From there, he progressed to a 13-year Regular Army career in the Coldstream Guards. But the good times at Eastern Avenue were never forgotten – “I loved every minute of it,” he says – and so in 2004 he returned as an instructor and has been there ever since.
He believes that every young person should be given an opportunity to succeed in the Army Cadets. “Our boys and girls come here from all walks of life. There’s no discrimination, whatever the background. Everyone has the same chance.”
Stephen encourages Cadets to take full involvement in public activities, as demonstrated when he led a platoon initiative a couple of years ago that raised more than £10,000 for the Army Benevolent Fund.
Under his guidance, the unit has also enjoyed unparalleled success at tug-of-war, winning English national and Army Cadet titles during the past two years.
The awards are made annually and recognise the unstinting service of individual members of the Reserves and of the Cadet organisations in the county.
Cadet Company Serjeant Major Katie Hawkins, who is the England under-18 ladies tug-of-war captain, was given a special award by the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire for her achievements and received £250.
The citation described her as “the epitome of what can be achieved as a member of one of the cadet organisations.”
The ceremony included the appointment of ten other young people as the Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadets for the next year, part of their role being to accompany her on official engagements. They were chosen on their merits within their respective Cadet forces, but also for their dedication and work within the local community.