Claires Court Holds Biennial Inspection of the CCF
CCF Whole School

On Monday 25 September we held the inaugural Biennial Inspection of our Combined Cadet Force at our beautiful Junior School.  We were delighted to welcome the British Army Band Sandhurst who played magnificently while Commander James Fickling RN, accompanied by Major Sam Brazendale,  inspected the recruits.  

Back in 2021 when the world was still on Zoom, the idea of introducing CCF to the School was conceived.  Thanks to Captain O’Clee, School Staff Instructor, Warrant Officer Class 1 Stephen Larkin, Second Lieutenant Richards, Second Lieutenant Gravett and Second Lieutenant Austin-Smith, our CCF has grown in just two years to over 60 cadets, ranging from Years 8 to 13.

Captain O’Clee said,

Starting a CCF here at Claires Court, and seeing the progress we've made in two years, is probably my proudest career moment to date. We still have a long way to go and lots more hard work to do, but seeing the cadets grow in confidence every week makes it all worth it. CCF offers such amazing opportunities and experiences, as well as incredible personal development - it really is a fantastic organisation for young people to join and I'm thrilled that it is now part of our school.

In Commander Fickling’s speech, he highlighted the pride he has in holding a dual role as parent at Claires Court supporting the CCF and an active role in the Navy.  He complimented the students on how well they had presented themselves and congratulated Captain O'Clee, and her team of CFAVs, on what an amazing achievement it was to grow such a strong unit in a short period of time.

Three awards were presented by the Rt Hon Theresa May accompanied by Commander Fickling. 

The first award was the Heilbron cup for best Cadet. Victor Israel Heilbron, an old boy of the school, served in the Royal Horse Artillery and was awarded the Military Medal in December 1916 before his death in France in April 1917.  In congratulating Sergeant Simpson on being awarded the Heilbron Cup, Captain O’Clee said, “From the very beginning, Sergeant Simpson has lived the values of the Cadet Force in everything he has done. Courage, Discipline, Respect, Integrity, Leadership and Selfless Commitment. Initially a quiet but safe pair of hands, Ed has grown into a true leader, confident in both himself and his ability to lead others.”

The second trophy was The Larkin Award for Personal Endeavour.  Our School Staff Instructor, Warrant Officer Class 1 Stephen Larkin, has been instrumental in the formation and growth of Claires Court CCF. Prior to joining the School, WO Larkin had spent 14 years working with Cadets as the SSI at Eton College, and before that a very distinguished career in the British Army, completing 23 years of exemplary service. Captain O’Clee commented, “To say we were overjoyed that he chose to join us on this journey is an understatement. His hard work, good humour and outstanding rapport with the cadets and officers have, in no small part, led us to where we are today. As a relatively young contingent, I know we still have a long way to go, but I believe that a CCF is only as good as its SSI and if that is the case, then we are, simply, excellent. It is only right that Mr Larkin should forever be recognised as a part of the Claires Court CCF legacy.”

In presenting the award, Captain O’Clee said, “We are delighted to present the The Larkin Award for Personal Endeavour to Corporal Oswald.  His hard work and dedication have been second to none, and he will always go above and beyond in whatever he takes on. Who knows what the future may hold, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he follows the family tradition and joins the Rifles.”

The final award, The Walford London Scottish Trophy, was kindly donated by the London Scottish Regimental Association, and named in honour of Claires Court alumni Ashford Walford and his younger brother Leslie. They enlisted just 38 days apart, and embarked for France together just six months later. On the night of Halloween, 1914, the 14th County of London Regiment (The London Scottish) fought at Messines Ridge, the first volunteer soldiers in action in WW1. Between dusk on the 31st and dawn the next morning, they repelled no less than four determined enemy attacks involving artillery, rifle fire and bayonet attacks. It came at a cost as nearly half the men and officers in the battalion were either killed, missing or wounded. Leslie Francie Walford was known to have been killed on the 1st November but Ashford was unaccounted for and officially posted as "missing", eventually altered to "missing, presumed dead". Neither brother has a war grave because their remains were never found. They are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing for those who have no known grave along with 100 of their comrades from the London Scottish who were killed on that night. We commemorate their sacrifice with this trophy, awarded to the cadets or cadets who mirror those values of camaraderie and commitment.

Closing the presentations, Captain O’Clee said, “Corporals Hurley and Lamond have been together and stood out from the start. Not only because they are the only female cadets in their year group, but because they jumped into everything with gusto, and always finished with a smile on their faces. At times, I think Lucy and Liddy are both slightly bemused at how much faith we have in them, but we see future leaders in them, and I think they are beginning to also see it in themselves. Their influence shows in our new intake of recruits, with a near 50/50 split between male and female cadets. Long may that continue!”

The occasion also marked the presentation of the new Contingent Banner, one of the first to feature the Tudor Crown of King Charles III. The funds for the Banner were raised by a group of local veterans and the parents of the CCF Cadets for which we are truly grateful.The School is exceptionally proud of the CCF contingent and we were delighted to welcome over 100 parents and Grandparents to the event alongside special guests, Lt Col Gray, South East Reserve Cadet Force Liaison Officer, and OC Cadet Training Team, Major Paul Sydenham.

The event was held at the newly formed Junior School so the event closed with Mr James Wilding and Mr Hugh Wilding cutting a ribbon to mark the official integration of the Juniors together on site.

Flickr album: CCF Biennial Inspection September 2023 | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


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