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On Friday 10 October, the annual CCF (Combined Cadet Force) Inspection Day took place at St John’s. Throughout the day, the School’s CCF was graded on its ability to deliver a successful and fulfilling training package. St John’s is renowned for its CCF, and often places in the top five nationally for cadet forces. In the past, the School has been used as a benchmark example of good practice.
The importance of presentation and success in the 2014 inspection was not to be underestimated. In the autumn sunshine, cadets stood sharply to attention for the inspecting officer, Major General D Shouesmith, RLC. A celebrated army officer, Major General Shouesmith entered Sandhurst in October 1981, and during his army career served in Germany, Kuwait, Bosnia and Afghanistan, among many other places.
The Inspection Day then gave way to the annual CCF Dinner, with music provided by an 18-piece band from Northwood HQ, consisting of regular soldiers, sailors or airmen who play music in their spare time. The evening was full of service traditions and was a chance to thank in style those NCOs in the Upper Sixth. Each year, the CCF dinner observes the customs of a different regiment, and this year attendees followed the customs of the Coldstream Guards. Known as ‘The Lilywhites’, the Coldstream Guards have won a total of 117 Battle Honours, including 39 in the Great War.
During the dinner, there were such rituals as the absence of a ‘loyalty toast’ (a toast made to the Queen). As the tradition has it, the Coldstream Guards pride themselves that their loyalty is never in doubt; thus, they need not show their loyalty by drinking to the health of the sovereign.
After dinner, guest speaker Royal Navy Captain Nick Washer gave an inspiring speech, with quotes from Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain to ‘rally the troops’:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” (Roosevelt).
Dinner guests were then treated to speakers from each cadet section. Marcus Discombe (RAF Section), William Genzel (Army Section) and Jose Davies (Royal Navy Section) reflected on the life of an OJ, Richard Millard, who served in WWI and survived. The theme of remembering the survivors had been chosen as it is the 100th anniversary of the war and, while we often pay tribute to the fallen, we must not neglect the survivors either.
Annual prizes were awarded to cadets, including the contingent commander’s U6 Award and the section commanding officer’s L6 Award. These prizes congratulated cadets for the best contribution to their section during the 2013-14 academic year.
The evening’s prize winners were as follows:
Royal Navy Section Nelson Award:
The Royal Navy Commanding Officer’s Award:
Army Section St George Award:
The Army Commanding Officer’s Award:
The Royal Air Force Section Bader Award:
The RAF Commanding Officer’s Award:
The CCF plays an important part of co-curricular life at St John’s, teaching cadets the valuable skills of teamwork, leadership and responsibility. The cadets will follow up on the Inspection Day with their respective Field Days during half term, where they can put their skills into practice.
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