VIDEO: Army Cadets celebrate new Harris facility

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Isle of Harris Detachment Army Cadets celebrated the opening of a new facility in the Tarbert Community Centre.

The Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Mr Sandy Matheson OBE, presided over the official opening of the new home of the Isle of Harris Deatachment 1st Battalion The Highlanders Army Cadet Force on the evening of March 17th.

'Saturday Kitchen' at the cooking in the field stand.

'Saturday Kitchen' at the cooking in the field stand.

The Highland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association provided the detachment with a new portable unit which will serve as a store, office and classroom for the detachment, while still using Tarbert Community Centre for training.

The new space arrived on the island in a most unorthodox fashion; on the back of a lorry! It then made the trip on the ferry before being lowered into place by crane.

Everyone was very grateful for the fair weather that day!

Harris Army Cadet Force Detachment closed in the early 1980s due to a lack of adult volunteers. Tim Martin of Scarista House became interested in the ACF in 2007 and for a year drove cadets from Harris to Stornoway in all weathers.

In 2008 the decision to resurrect Isle of Harris Detachment was taken and, much to Tim Martin’s relief, the Harris Mutual Improvement Association allowed the detachment to meet in Tarbert from 2009.

Tim Martin was joined by Richard Allen of Scalpay in 2010 and both continue to give quality training to the cadets of Isle of Harris Detachment. The detachment’s parent unit of 1st Battalion The Highlanders Army Cadet Force has also provided a minibus for use by the detachment to allow ACF transport in the area of Harris and cadets from Leverburgh are regular attendees.

At the start of the evening Lord Lieutenant Sandy Matheson inspected the detachment before Colonel Taverner of HRFCA welcomed the detachment and guests.

Colonel Taverner talked briefly about HRFCA’s missions, much of which is supporting the buildings used by the Reserves and Cadet Forces and increasing involvement with community support in the present financial circumstances. He thanked Harris Mutual Improvement Association for their continuing support and presented a cheque to Alice Read of HMIA in appreciation of their efforts.

Colonel Taverner handed the new accommodation over to Major Norman MacLeod, the Company Commander of Western Isles ACF.

Major MacLeod spoke of his pride in the detachment and the ongoing benefits of uniformed youth organisations, particularly the ACF, for giving young people the preparation they need for life in the modern world.

He further thanked the Headmaster and staff of Sir E Scott School for the support that they give the ACF during the training weekends.

Major MacLeod then asked Lord Lieutenant Sandy Matheson to declare the new accommodation open, which he duly did with great pleasure and then spoke proudly of his links with Harris and congratulated the cadets on their bearing and turnout.

Guests were then invited to inspect the new accommodation and there was a display of equipment and ACF subjects hosted by the cadets. This included rifles and shooting skills, map reading, fieldcraft, first aid and expeditions.

The cooking in the field stand with its modern ration packs seemed exceptionally popular, especially the dish of boiled fruit cocktail! Challenging the ration packs for popularity was a fork buffet provided by Scarista House.

The evening was finished off by a final parade during which the Lord Lieutenant presented Sergeant Major Instructor Angelique MacDonald of Back Detachment her Cadet Forces Medal in recognition of her twelve years service to the ACF.

Angelique joined in 2001 as a Probationary Instructor with no previous military experience.

During her service she has become the Detachment Commander at Back and among her many ACF qualifications is a Range Conducting Officer allowing cadets to shoot on indoor ranges.

Finally Lance Corporal Joe MacLeod presented the Lord Lieutenant with a cheque for £2983 for PoppyScotland collected by Western Isles Company Army Cadet Force during Remembrance week in November; a great show of generosity by the public in these continuing times of austerity.

Western Isles Army Cadet Force has detachments at Back, Barvas, Stornoway, Tarbert, Benbecula and Daliburgh and is always looking for new members. Cadets need to be a minimum of 12 years of age and in secondary education.

The ACF is also looking for well motivated adult members with the ability to commit some spare time.

If you are interested please phone 01463 732335 or visit www.armycadets.com