Cadets celebrate successes

May 26, 2021

Army Cadets from across Caithness and Sutherland have once again reopened their doors after more than four months in lockdown.

Cadets from 1st Battalion The Highlanders’ have returned to training over the past few weeks as Scotland’s Covid restrictions have been relaxed.

For the past year Army Cadets up and down the country have moved their training online to ensure the cadets were not falling behind in their cadet progression and also trying to help improve people’s mental health by staying connected during lockdown. Throughout the latest lockdown the Caithness cadets have been engaging with the Battalion’s Online Programme, as well as the National Army Cadet Training team organising talks and lectures from guest speakers such as Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins’ Mark Billingham. 

The first detachment to welcome cadets back were Thurso, Castletown and Farr Detachments on May 4, holding a joint training night at Halkirk Cadet Centre, due to Tier 3 guidance for Youth Organisations that only permitted outdoor training.

Three cadets with certificates.
Siblings (from left) PI Lani Jones, Sgt Keoni Jones and Cdt Keanu Jones with their Guinness World Record Certificates.

At the end of the evening the detachment made several presentations to cadets and adults for their achievements over lockdown. Probationary Instructor Lani Jones (20), Cadet Sergeant Keoni Jones (17) and Cadet Keanu Jones (14) (all siblings) were presented with Guinness World Record Certificates for their involvement in the Army Cadets’ official (and successful!) attempt to break the world record for “Most users to take part in an online Mental Health Awareness Course” which took place last October for World Mental Health Day.

Two cadets with awards.
PI Jones (left) and Sgt Jones with their iDEA awards.

Lani and Keoni were also presented with their iDEA Award certificates, PI Jones was awarded a Bronze award and Sgt Jones Silver. The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA, is an international programme that helps develop and demonstrate digital, enterprise and employability skills for free. Both adults and cadets can complete an award.

Cadet receives certificate from company commander.
Sgt Keoni Jones (right) receiving his SCIC Certificate from Major MacLean, Company Commander Caithness Company.

Sgt Jones was also presented with his Senior Cadet Instructor Certificate by Major Neil Mclean, Company Commander of Caithness Company. He completed the course virtually last October. The course, conducted by 51 Brigade Cadet Training Team, saw the cadets learn instructional skills alongside cadets from across the UK. Keoni built upon the instructional skills taught from his Junior Cadet Instructor Course, which was delivered virtually in December. Completion of the course allows him to teach up to and including the 3 Star Cadet Training Syllabus.

On May 6, Halkirk Detachment welcomed their cadets back to the detachment where they continued with their training. At the end of the evening four presentations were made. Captain Stephen Mezals (38), Cadet Lance Corporal Sarah Booth (15) and Cadet Lance Corporal Callum Prideaux (15) were awarded their Guinness World Record Certificates for their involvement in the Army Cadets’ World Record attempt to break the world record for “Most users to take part in an online Mental Health Awareness Course”.

Adult instructor and cadets with Guinness certificates.
From left: (L-R) Halkirk’s Capt Stephen Mezals, LCpl Sarah Booth and LCpl Callum Prideaux with their Guinness World Record Certificates.

Like many organisations the Army Cadets unfortunately lost many of older cadets, who reached the upper age limit of the organisation and due to lockdown were unable to have a traditional send-off. As detachments have been returning they have been able to welcome back former cadets to wish them well, which saw ex-Thurso Detachment Cadet Sergeant Louise Sinclair (18) return last Tuesday to be presented with her Silver iDEA award certificate that she achieved over lockdown.

Former cadet holds award certificate.
Ex-Thurso cadet Sgt Louise Sinclair with her iDEA award.

As Scotland has started to move into Tier 2 restrictions, Youth Organisations are now permitted to train indoors. With this move Army Cadets across the country hope to continue with more training and also welcome more cadets back to their own respective detachment halls, where social distancing allows.