The successes of two Ballymena Cadets and the contribution of an inspirational Adult Instructor in the Cadet movement have been honoured at an Awards ceremony in Belfast City Hall.
Captain Heidi Blackwood, Director of Music with the 1st (Northern Ireland) Army Cadet Force Corps of Drums based in Ballymena was honoured with recognition from the Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation whose Chief Executive, Edward Woods, described Heidi as someone who is always prepared to ‘go the extra mile’.
He said of her work, “She has built up 1st NI Battalion Army Cadet Force Corps of Drums to such an extent that it is without doubt in our view one of the best in the country. She started the band from scratch and there is no doubting the talent that she has nurtured – a fantastic achievement from a superbly committed individual and deserving of our particular respect.”
Heidi received her award and congratulations from Colonel Sir Donal Keegan KCVO OBE, President of the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association for Northern Ireland.
She has been the inspirational force behind establishing the Corps of Drums and rapidly building its musical reputation. Under her leadership the band has actively recruited and encouraged new membership and many of those young musicians have been successful in securing BTEC qualifications in Music.
Colonel Keegan said of Heidi, “She is an outstanding Adult Instructor who mentors and encourages ‘her’ Cadets with an enthusiasm that is as notable as her personal musical talents. Heidi is a whirlwind of activity and is respected and loved by the Cadets in her care. We salute her achievements.”
At the same City Hall ceremony Cadet Jason Nicoletti from Broughshane and Cadet Corporal Jonathan Fullerton from Ballymena were presented with certificates to mark the attainment of BTEC in Public Services.
The internationally respected qualification delivered to Cadets via the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation (CVQO) mixes theory and practical elements with an emphasis on leadership, teamwork, communications, problem solving and fitness. The syllabus includes professional CV preparation, interviewing techniques, communication, first aid, adventure training, health and nutrition.
Congratulating Jason, Jonathan and other award recipients from across Northern Ireland, Colonel Sir Donal Keegan KCVO OBE, President of the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association for Northern Ireland, said: “Membership of the Cadet movement has always helped young people to acquire a diverse range of practical skills, given them opportunities to develop self-discipline and shown them how to work independently, as part of a team or, indeed, to lead others. Now we are adding to that list of attributes by offering our Cadets the chance to earn independently recognised qualifications which will be of real value to them as they enter college or university or step into the world of work.
“Achieving BTEC standard in Public Services is no mean feat, particularly when the work is juggled with school, family and social commitments, but our Cadets have welcomed the challenge and have worked hard to achieve this valuable award. It seems to me that they have achieved the right balance, enjoying the fun and sociability which are at the very heart of Cadet membership.