Boom-time for Army Cadets in the Western Isles

AFTER almost a decade of closed doors, the islands’ Army Cadet Force is looking forward to the re-opening of their Daliburgh hut tonight.

But things haven’t always been going so well for island cadets. A couple of years ago times were hard – cadet numbers were falling and it was difficult to recruit adults to help out from the islands’ population.

It was proving hard to find space on the islands and running the cadets was proving to be an uphill task. Some had even closed due to lack of adult instructors to run them.

But fast forward to 2011 and, as well as being able to open a previously closed detachment on Lewis, the Army Cadet Force has established a new centre on the west coast of Harris and has reopened the Daliburgh detachment on South Uist after more than nine years closed!

Now the ACF in the Western Isles stands at 85 cadets and 17 adult volunteers, with more in the Air Cadets.

This has been due entirely to the local community getting behind the Army Cadet Force.

Norman Macleod is the Officer Commanding the Western Isles Company and has been charged with identifying adults to run the existing detachments and lead the new ones.

He has been pivotal in identifying cadets who have returned to the island and approaching them with a view to joining as adults, and also in approaching any ex-regulars in the army who may have returned to the islands, to see if they might like to join. In the end the new Harris detachment was started by a hotelier who was looking for a way to occupy his children and their friends. It has grown quickly and is now a firm fixture on the list of things for young people to do in the town.

And now, after almost a decade when the hut was closed, Daliburgh is going to get its very own detachment back.

It is being officially opened tonight by Col AK Miller CBE, Chief Executive of Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association, whose organisation supports the cadets on the Western Isles and beyond.

He has been instrumental in the resurgence of the cadets on the islands and looks forward to expanding it even further.