Army Cadet Force News

Army Cadet Force News

Colonel Neil Jurd has recently been selected as the National Director of Initial Officer Training for the Army Cadet Force (ACF).  We asked Colonel Jurd to tell us about himself:

Q.  You had 5 years with ACF Lancashire – what are you most proud of during your time there?

A.  My adult volunteers.  They are the key to a good cadet county.  Over the past five years we have grown the county by about 20% in cadet numbers, run 15 overseas trips, started a charity to support our adventures, and been described by regional command as the ‘Highest performing county in the UK’.  And all of this was down to excellent volunteers.

Q.  Working with cadets and adult volunteers is an extremely rewarding experience what makes it such a valuable organisation in your opinion?

A.  The Army Cadet Force is a great community to be part of; we all support each other and I’ve made some close friends over the past five years in this role.  We give our young people a boost; I was an army cadet, and I know the ACF set me on the path for the interesting life I have, and I know we do the same for tens of thousands of other young people across the UK.  And being an adult volunteer is a great way to make friends and do some good in the world.

Q.  Why do you think you have been asked to lead officer training?

A.  I work in leadership training for my day job. In the regular army I was a Platoon Commander at Sandhurst, and later was a Deputy President at AOSB.  Since then I have run my own leadership development and coaching company, and worked as a Course Director for the Leadership Trust.  I have worked with Commonwealth Games Team Scotland, schools, universities, Highways England, and many other organisations to help improve and develop leadership.  I am fascinated by people and organisations, and I love the Army Cadet Force, and would like to have the greatest possible positive effect in this organisation.

Q.  Do you think that the Corps are involved enough with helping develop and support cadets?

A.  The regular army is busy, but the army cadet force can always use more help.  Cadets love seeing and using kit, and they love meeting soldiers and officers.  We often have a great mix of regular, reserve and OTC people supporting our annual camps.

Q.  In your new role you will be in charge of officer training, what challenges to you expect to face and how do you you think your leadership experience can help you in this role.

A.  I expect to meet hundreds of great people, looking to move into leadership roles in the organisations – and my job is to make leadership simple for them.  I think learning should be fun, and the right mix of theory, experience and discussion – with great speakers, and a warm, engaging atmosphere.  I would like the course I run to get the highest possible reviews from delegates – ‘the IOT was the best course I ever attended’.

Q.  In the Royal Signals we are investing in our cadets and trying to foster close bonds between our Reserve Units and cadet detachments – do you think this is important for the cadets?

A.  Very much so.  Although many cadets have little or no interest in joining the regular or reserve forces – and that is fine, the depth of a good relationship with a parent unit is always helpful.  The staff appreciate it, and the cadets enjoy it.  If that relationships involves more concrete support, then all the better.  That could involve visitors teaching lessons, or hosting visits.  One of my thoughts on leadership generally is that being well-connected helps a leader to get things done.  The same is true of organisations, including cadet and military detachments.

Q.  Do you have any Royal Signals Detachments in Lancashire?

A.  Yes, I have a superb one in Blackburn run by the fantastic Neil Shorrock.  He runs his unit with such incredible enthusiasm – and at times has as many as 70 cadets turning up.  All at a shoddy old abandoned Reserve Centre, where the fire alarms go off randomly and most of the estate is abandoned and out of bounds.  It is quite incredible what he has achieved there with his small team of adults, and shows the difference that great leadership can make.  Hundreds of young people are being giving a lift by the ACF because of his, and the other volunteers’ excellent work.

Q.  In your opinion why should those ex serving/veterans consider joining as an adult volunteer.

A.  For the sense of community and the fun.  People often talk about ‘giving back’ but I think this is nonsense, cadet adult volunteers enjoy the experience.  In Lancashire we have around 200 volunteers, and we are a close community who look after each other.  Much much more so than in most peoples’ day jobs.  And the cadets are a great bunch; they are there because they want to be there, and they really appreciate what we do.  So many reasons to get involved.  I would recommend that anyone who is interested goes to and gives it a go.

Q.  If you could offer every cadet one piece of advice what would it be?

A.  Do as much as you can – take part in the overseas trips and the adventure training, go on the battlefield tours, do the leadership courses, make loads of friends and look after the younger cadets.