NOA Spotlight of the Month

Volunteer Cadet Corps

Legend has it that the Volunteer Cadet Corps was established on Valentine’s Day in 1901 to “gainfully occupy the spare time of sons of Non-Commissioned Officers” following an incident involving a football and the office window of the Colonel of the Royal Marines Eastney Barracks in Portsmouth. Ever since that minor accident the VCC has been supporting, developing and training young people as Royal Naval Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets for over 120 years.

The organisation is run completely by volunteers, some with former military service, and sometimes current serving personnel who help in addition to their duties. Unlike the larger Sea Cadets, the VCC ‘belongs’ to the Royal Navy and as such units are can only be found in Royal Navy establishments and Royal Marines barracks, which explains its comparative small size of around 450 cadets.

The DofE has a long history with some VCC units, however things changed in 2017 when the VCC became a National Operating Authority which expanded the availability of the DofE to every cadet. The Commander of the VCC, Lieutenant Colonel (VCC) Christopher Spratt, has been a driving force behind the growth of the Award across the organisation, “The ethos, elements and requirements of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award align so closely with our own that embracing the Award across the VCC as a National Operating Authority was a very easy decision to take. Participation in the DofE is something which I consider a core element of the ‘Cadet Experience’.”

The cadets come from a very wide and diverse variety of backgrounds and the VCC prides itself in developing them into confident and responsible young adults through a mix of military training, such as drill, navigation and fieldcraft, and skill at arms, alongside other adventurous and physical activities. The VCC’s DofE Manager, Simon Weaver, explained how the Award dovetails into Cadet training, “We have senior cadets working alongside the Adult Instructors helping to train junior cadets for their Volunteering. We have cadets learning and developing the skills required to become a member of the Royal Marines Cadet Band or Rifle Drill Display Team but, perhaps the most popular Physical activity amongst Award participants is joining their fellow cadets in training for and ‘running the gun’ in the annual Cadet Field Gun competition. With so much of our routine ‘Cadet Experience’ linking directly into DofE sections I’m often left asking cadets ‘why aren’t you doing your DofE?’

The VCC prides itself helping to develop the cadet to be the best version of themselves that they can. Cheryl is the Mum of a Royal Naval Cadet and said, “Having completed his Bronze Award in 2021 he is now well into his Silver, and the effects it is having on him are amazing. He has developed not only life skills, but discipline, positive attitude and leadership skills. This has set him up on an amazing pathway to achieve his ambition of joining the military.

Like most organisations, the lockdown period saw the growth of DofE slowdown across the VCC, but 2022 has seen it bounce back bigger and better than ever with our largest Bronze Award intake yet – a massive 100% increase in new participants! Long may that trend continue!


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