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Academy cadet force gets official send off and inspection

A school cadet force has been formally welcomed into the ranks of the Royal Marines at an official opening ceremony and parade.

The King’s Academy, in Coulby Newham, is one of just four schools in the North East to have established a cadet unit under the Ministry of Defence’s Cadet Expansion Programme.

Now the unit has been officially opened by Lieutenant Colonel David Spink of the Royal Marines at a ceremony that included the raising of a flag, an inspection of the cadets and the presentation of awards and a Commando dagger to the academy.

Twenty-eight cadets performed a drill display in front of Lt Col Spink, Royal Marines Captain Jack Calvert and WO2 Mark Haigh and WO Gary Russell, who is responsible for the Cadet Expansion programme on Teesside, and David Dawes, Principal of The King’s Academy.

Parents and family members were invited to attend the ceremony, which was also watched by the academy sixth form and students from Year 7 and Year 8, who will have a chance to apply to join the unit in the future.

Led by Academy teacher and contingent commander Lieutenant Ross Garwood and senior staff instructor Colour Sergeant Trevor Calvert, the cadets have undergone fieldcraft, weapons, evasion and survival training and completed a four-day camp on Dartmoor near the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon.

Cadet Jaiden Babat, 15, of Nunthorpe, who was selected as the Best Cadet, said: “I have loved all the physical activities and learning about the history of the Royal Marines. It’s been great fun and I’ve made lots of new friends. It’s helped my self-discipline and put my extra energy to good use. I was thinking of joining the armed forces before and now I definitely want to do it.”

Lt Col Spink told the cadets: “The only real difference between you and me is the green beret.”

Referencing the coins he awarded, he said: “On the coins are two words that stand out for me, one is courage and the other is determination. Both of those characteristics are in the core values of your school.

“Courage and determination are important to us in the Royal Marines but not just because we are in an elite organisation, they matter to you too. Those two words will get you a long way, courage to do the right thing and determination to do the best that you can.”

Mr Dawes, a former Army captain, added: “Our work to establish a Royal Marines Cadet Unit goes back to 2017 and we look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.

“The fact that our values and what we believe to be important overlap is exactly the reason why we wanted to develop a cadet unit and have done so so successfully. Humility is another core value and an aspect of life at The King’s Academy; it’s core to our ability to lead others that there is a humble heart, and that we serve to lead.”

The other cadets to receive awards were: Recognition of Service coins to Cdt CSgt Jack Batt, Cdt Sgt Amelia Farrow, Cdt Sgt Thomas Mohan, Cdt Cpl Robbie Cope and Cdt Cpl Ewan Stokes, who were among the first Royal Marine Cadets in the county and achieved promotion in the Combined Cadet Force for their leadership qualities and commitment; Best Turned Out cadet Grace Profitt; Most Improved Cadet Kristen Wilson; Most Committed Cadet Alfie Sherwood; and Cadet Mary Rowney-Himsworth, who received the Commando Values and Spirit Award.

The ceremony ended with prayers by Army padre Robert Desics and pastor Ken Stone.