Carrickfergus Cadets to the fore in Hillsborough showcase

The traditional 21 Gun Royal Salute at Hillsborough. INCT 47-705-CON
The traditional 21 Gun Royal Salute at Hillsborough. INCT 47-705-CON

Community representatives from Carrickfergus have enjoyed a lively lesson in the role of the Cadet movement in Northern Ireland

Members of Castlemara Community Association and Sunnylands Community Centre were invited to Hillsborough Castle to witness the traditional 21 Gun Royal Salute which marked the birthday of the Prince of Wales.

Petty Officer Cadet Patrick Bingham, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant's Cadet for the County Borough of Belfast, welcomes representatives of Castlemara Community Association, from left, Suzanne Campbell, chair, June McRoberts and Lynda Manson, vice-chair. INCT 48-704-CON

Petty Officer Cadet Patrick Bingham, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant's Cadet for the County Borough of Belfast, welcomes representatives of Castlemara Community Association, from left, Suzanne Campbell, chair, June McRoberts and Lynda Manson, vice-chair. INCT 48-704-CON

As is customary, the salute was fired by officers and soldiers from 206 (Ulster) Battery, Royal Artillery, and, as the ‘big guns’ rolled out at Hillsborough, almost identical ceremonies were taking place at London, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

On this occasion, the Cadet movement was also a focus of attention with teenage members acting as hosts and providing information about the life.

Cadet Corporal James Sowter from Carrickfergus said: “It was a bit daunting to take on a formal role, welcoming VIP guests to Hillsborough Castle, but it was a good test of our claim that being a Cadet adds to your personal confidence!

“Nervousness apart, we were pleased to have the opportunity to talk to so many people who influence young people’s lives. We were able to publicly thank the schools and community organisations which already give us such tremendous support and to tell others in the audience about the benefits that we all enjoy.

Some members of Sunnylands and Woodburn Community Development Group pictured alongside Claire Crawford, Project Worker and the NI Cadets during the Royal Gun Salute at Hillsborough Castle on Saturday November 14.  INCT 48-735-CON

Some members of Sunnylands and Woodburn Community Development Group pictured alongside Claire Crawford, Project Worker and the NI Cadets during the Royal Gun Salute at Hillsborough Castle on Saturday November 14. INCT 48-735-CON

“I think everyone is very well aware of the opportunities for fitness, sport and outdoor adventure, but Cadet membership can also help you to earn valuable qualifications and achievements that will enhance your Personal Statement when you apply for university or improve your CV when you’re looking for a first job.

“I feel I’ve really benefited from my time in the Cadets, with loads of great experiences and, just as important, great friendships. It’s something I would recommend to other young people and I hope the schools and community groups will see the benefits and encourage membership too.”

The community leaders also heard that the movement has proud links with the town.

Adult Instructor, Lieutenant Ricky Allen, from Carrickfergus, commented: “Historically Cadet membership has always been strong in Carrick and it continues to flourish – but there’s always room for more young people to join!

There’s room too, he added, for more adults to step up to the challenge of working with young people, helping them to gain the skills and personal qualities which will stand them in good stead in later life.

“You don’t have to be a teacher or professional youth worker to be considered as a potential adult instructor for Cadets: we can provide all the training and supervised experience that you will need.

“All we ask is that volunteers should share our ethos of wanting to make life more exciting, challenging – and better – for our young people. If you share those aims and if you genuinely enjoy working with teenagers, we’d love to hear from you.”