Staff Instructor Kal Singh, Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force
Hospital worker Kal Singh helps to transform the lives of young people in his community through his role as a cadet force adult volunteer.
He is among the 1,300 volunteers who are the backbone of Yorkshire’s cadet forces – inspiring and supporting young people in the region to thrive.
“It’s great to be able to give something back and to be able to offer our cadets opportunities that they would never get otherwise,” said Kal, a former soldier who helps run Humberside and South Yorkshire Army Cadet Force’s Ashby Detachment, Scunthorpe.
“I began volunteering five years ago because I missed a lot of the activities you do when you’re in the Armed Forces – such as map-reading, fieldcraft and running.
“Just seeing the sheer enjoyment of the cadets when they learn something new is a reward in itself. I’m there to give them a hand and encourage them along the way.”
Kal, who is responsible for maintenance at Scunthorpe District Hospital, devotes two evenings a week to his cadet unit – as well as running weekends away and annual camps.
Civilian Instructor William Ainslie
59 (Huddersfield) Squadron ATC
Meet Huddersfield NHS consultant William Ainslie who, in his spare time, is also one of Yorkshire’s 1,300 cadet force adult volunteers.
Anyone who is between 18 and 55 and is fit and healthy can become a volunteer with the cadets.
William, a gastrointestinal surgeon with Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation NHS Trust, decided to volunteer with the Air Cadets’ 59 (Huddersfield) Squadron 18 months ago and says he’s never looked back.
“Joining the air cadets was one of the best things I have ever done and I wish I had done so sooner,” said William whose sons Ben, aged 17, and Alex, aged 13, are both cadets in the squadron.
“Since I joined I have seen the difference that being an air cadet makes on young people and I feel privileged to have been allowed to become a volunteer”.
William is a member of South and West Yorkshire Wing’s Leadership Training Team which means he delivers training courses that help cadets learn leadership skills that will aid them in all aspects of their life.
“Everyone in my wing and squadron has been welcoming and highly dedicated to the cadets and the organisation,” he said.
“The lockdown has shown everyone’s resilience with volunteers finding new ways of delivering training and cadets rising to the challenges. I’m in awe of their commitment and readiness to learn.”
Flight Lieutenant Clare Crebbin,
Commanding Officer at 58 (Harrogate) Squadron ATC
By night and at weekends, she is commanding officer at 58 (Harrogate) Squadron where she leads a team of five adult volunteers responsible for more than 40 air cadets.
“There is nothing like watching the progress the cadets make during their time with us,” said Flight Lieutenant Crebbin who was an air cadet herself before becoming a civilian instructor after leaving university.
“They start off as nervous 13-year-olds and develop into capable and engaged young adults ready to embark on their lives. Being part of that transformation is the best thing.”
After starting as a civilian instructor with the cadet corps, Flight Lieutenant Crebbin spent time as a Warrant Officer before being awarded her commission and progressing up the ranks.
“The cadets gave me so much and this is my chance to give back and enable the next generation to have the same opportunities I enjoyed,” she said.
As part of her role, she devotes two nights a week to the squadron, plus parts of most weekends.
The air cadets is a family affair for Flight Lieutenant Crebbin with her husband Chris, a police officer, serving as a commanding officer in Knaresborough and both her children – Sam and Beth – serving as cadets.
Chief Petty Officer (SCC) Michelle Blackburn RNR,
Commanding Officer Harrogate Sea Cadets
“I was a cadet at school and had lots of friends in the corps and across the organisation nationally,” she said.
“So staying on as an adult instructor and volunteer seemed the obvious thing to do once I turned 18. I’m currently commanding officer and feel that it’s my way of giving back.”
In winter, the corp’s 37 cadets meet on Mondays and Fridays at TS Cleopatra, their base in Springfield Mews.
But in the summer they spend increasing amounts of time at Ripon Sailing Club where they do a range of water-based activities.
Chief Petty Officer (SCC) Blackburn also takes cadets on a week-long band course on HMS Bristol each year and the unit offers many other courses away with the cadets including a weeks summer camp also on HMS Bristol.
“For me it’s been a great way of keep up with friends from around the country,” said Chief Petty Officer Blackburn (SCC) who works for Harrogate Borough Council.
“I benefited so much from being in the cadets as a young person that it’s good to be able to pass on the opportunities it provides to the new generation.”