A Gloucestershire police officer has been honoured with a Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate of Meritorious Service for his dedication to the Sea Cadets in the Forest of Dean.
Having settled in the Forest after leaving the Royal Navy in 1995, Lieutenant Mike Chard was in the perfect position to help out.
He recalled: “The unit was limping along, almost dying from lack of support and funding, with only seven to nine cadets attending regularly.”
Since taking command, he has seen the numbers of cadets increase to around 40. A big fundraising drive raised £50,000, enabling them to move to new premises, recruit more staff and organise more activities.
As well as the traditional water-based activities such as sailing, windsurfing and kayaking, the cadets also learn a range of other skills, from first aid and mountain biking to engineering and cookery.
Mike’s nomination for the Lord-Lieutenant’s award came out of the blue: “It’s wonderful, not just for me but for the organisation as a whole. I’m so proud of what the young people achieve here.
“The Forest of Dean isn’t the most affluent area in the county and families can sometimes face difficult challenges. So it’s always wonderful to see a shy 10-year old arrive here, go on courses and gain experience. Then when they leave at 18, they’re able to stand up and speak in public, know their own mind and have the courage to follow their dreams.
“We’ve had four ex-cadets come back to help as adult volunteers, simply because they enjoy it so much and get such a thrill out of seeing young people progress in the same way that they did themselves.
“The Sea Cadets offer young people a lot of positive values and activities but we’re really one of the Forest of Dean’s best kept secrets – it can be very hard to get publicity.”
Although he has since handed over command of the Forest of Dean unit, Mike is still an active member of the team, taking the lead on training and helping out with IT issues at other units around the district, from Gloucester and Cheltenham to Ross-on-Wye and Malvern.
He received his Certificate of Meritorious Service from Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Edward Gillespie OBE, during a ceremony at the Manor by the Lake Hotel, Cheltenham.
Others to be awarded the Certificate of Meritorious Service, which is only one level below national honours such as the MBE, were:
- Tony Smith, a civilian driving instructor, who is a member of the management team at Cheltenham Sea Cadets (Training Ship Legion). His strong leadership as chair led to the award of a Burgee for outstanding progress and performance, marking the unit as one of the best in the UK. He continues to serve the Unit as its president.
- Lieutenant Marion Hooper, who has served the Sea Cadet Corps for more than 50 years. She was Unit Secretary, Instructor and Commanding Officer of Brighton Sea Cadets before moving to Gloucestershire to join Cheltenham Sea Cadets (TS Legion).
- Sam Wildin, Administration Officer for 14 years with the Rifle Volunteers and subsequently with A Company, 6 Rifles. She is responsible for the administration of 186 Army Reservists and Regular staff based in Gloucester, Bristol and Hereford.
- Major Hannah Beale, a full-time Year 4 teacher, who initially joined the Army Cadets in 1993 then became a Cadet Force Adult Volunteer in 1998. She has re-established the Gloucestershire ACF’s Corps of Drums, taking part in national music competitions.
- Sub Lieutenant (SCC) Joseph Thurland, a civil servant who has spent 15 years as an adult volunteer in the Sea Cadets. He took over as commanding officer at Cheltenham after two COs left in quick succession and did a great job in turning the unit around.
- Special Constable William Bayley has been an integral member of the Urban Response Team since joining in 2017. He volunteered more than 1,200 hours in 2018 in addition to his core role, training Special Forces and others in close hand combat.
- Special Constable Jasmine Smart, a professional actor who is the first Special Constable to become a family liaison officer and a trauma risk management co-ordinator. She is also a trained ‘hate crime champion’ for the force.
- Dan Kershaw, a software developer who joined the Special Constabulary four years ago. He has become one of the most skilled road policing officers and is the first Special Constable to be an accredited scene manager for serious or fatal road traffic collisions.