Continuing to deliver for cadets and reserves 2024

RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber's annual report, Spring 2024


RFCA Chairman, David Rhodes

Chairman David Rhodes gives his assessment of the RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber's challenges and achievements in 2023/24 and looks forward to the year ahead.

Welcome to our 2024 annual report. 

Our regional cadets have had an excellent year. Numbers continue to increase across all three services, with overall numbers up by 20 percent. Most importantly we have also seen a 20 percent rise in our adult volunteers and I’d like to pay tribute to all those involved in this year’s Adult Volunteer recruiting. Annual summer camps are vital to the cadet experience and it has been heartening to see a full return to these events this year and to see our key regional training centres and Strensall and Driffield back to full use. The cadet expansion scheme also continues to thrive with new CCFs opened in Scunthorpe and Penistone, with Brigg opening soon. This will bring our total in the region to 28 schools whom we supported with £75k of grants this year.

We have been able to meet all our statutory works this year across the 139 cadet facilities we’re responsible for and invest in new facilities, most notably the new joint army and air cadet centre at Skipton and the refurbishment of Mona House in Hull. I continue to believe that the self-reliance, discipline, pride and training that cadet service in Yorkshire and the Humber brings to a growing number of young people benefits not just them but our communities as a whole, and we will continue to campaign and advocate for more recognition and more resources for our cadets.

Turning now to our reserves, upon whom the nationally spotlight has shone more so than usual as a result of events in Eastern Europe, and where I believe we see two very different narratives. Publicly, we see calls for an increased focus on reserves, with the aim to achieve much greater numbers and resources in order to mobilise at scale should the need arise. In practice however actual resources are reducing and reserves numbers in the region and nationally continue to decline, with outflow outstripping inflow. All of the statistics seem to indicate that there is no shortage of interest in reserve service, but that the process of engaging potential recruits is resulting in far too few finally joining a unit. There is little we in the associations can do to change this other than continue to support our local units with safe and fit infrastructure, provide financial support for adventurous training and other retention positive activities, and support their recruiting activity, whilst advocating nationally for a complete rethink in the reserves recruiting process. I know that we are playing our part, as are other associations around the country. Over the past 30 years, our reserves have been reconfigured both culturally and physically to support asymmetric rather than state-on-state conventional conflicts, and although the recent Haythornthwaite review and the ‘reboot’ of Lord Lancaster’s May 2021 Reserve Forces Review 2030 are both welcome, even if implemented they provide minimal tactical changes when what is required is a new strategy. 

Our community engagement this year has been significant, and in my opinion, outstanding, particularly as the services start to cut back on engagement for budgetary reasons and our contribution becomes more and more important. The myriad of events and activities are too numerous for me to highlight them all here, but I would like to make special mention of the new military business expo events held jointly with various Chambers of Commerce, an initiative I hope other associations will copy. Please do read the detail in the annual report and join me in thanking our engagement team for all their hard work.

The Association itself is in an excellent position all round, and as always I pay tribute to the small but perfectly formed staff at our headquarters at York and also around the county in our cadet forces who ensure we do so much with so little. This year sees a major change in the way we deliver facilities management to the volunteer estate, replacing a myriad of small local contractors with a single prime contractor under the MOD FDIS programme, and our estates team have done sterling work this year to prepare for the change alongside continuing to do the day job.

Financially, we have had an exceptional year with our income up by almost 25 percent, driven in part to attracting additional in-year funding. This has resulted in us being able to increase expenditure on improvements to existing property from £500k last year to £1.4m this year, and to spend £1.8m on new infrastructure. Overall, our expenditure has increased by over 40 percent and although this has depleted our reserves somewhat they are still at a healthy £3m and we have a much improved and larger estate to support our reserves and cadets. Looking ahead, and despite the national headlines regarding increasing defence spending to 2.5 percent over the next several years, it is likely that we will experience MoD underfunding for the next few years, so may need to continue to call upon our reserves to ensure we meet our obligations.

I am delighted to welcome several new members to the association this year. It is vital that we continue to reach out and persuade new talent into our ranks. Once again, I would like to thank all members for their continued support, counsel and assistance to both myself and the board. Together we continue to play a small but influential part in positively shaping the regions and nations reserves and cadets. 

young people white water rafting on a river

We delivered for cadets across the region

Supporting cadets and volunteers

RFCA YH is committed to delivering tri-service cadet programmes throughout Yorkshire and the Humber, extending support to the Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force, Air Training Corps and the schools-based Combined Cadet Force. The cadet forces provide an opportunity for individuals to gain invaluable qualifications, enhance their confidence and prepare themselves for a bright and successful future with endless possibilities. From summer camps to skills-building activities, cadets enjoy fun adventures whilst making lasting friendships.

Adventurous Training

We supported several opportunities that enabled cadets access to adventurous training, offering a chance to step out of their comfort zone and experience new environments, new challenges and build upon their confidence and abilities. With the help of the Yorkshire Cadet Trust, 16 cadets journeyed north to the mountains in Aviemore Scotland for a skiing expedition (£800). A little further south, seven cadets took on a parachuting adventure in Netheravon, Wiltshire (£350).

Annual Summer Camp

Annual summer camp is a cornerstone event for all cadets in Yorkshire and the Humber.  In 2023, we supported 50 air cadets to go to Barry Buddon camp in Scotland as well as 300 cadets from Humberside and South Yorkshire ACF (£3,500).  Whilst there, the Army Cadet Force (ACF) cadets, along with the Lothian and Borders cadets, welcomed the  National Cadet Corps of India who were on an exchange visit.   It was an excellent opportunity to share knowledge, skills and learning.  Whilst half of our counties’ cadets were up north, we further supported up to 500 cadets from our Combined Cadet Forces (CCF) at our Strensall Barracks HQ who took part in activities and training throughout Yorkshire (£2,500).

Growth and Expansion

We host the Department for Education and Ministry of Defence’s Cadet Expansion Scheme which helps schools across the region set up and develop cadet units. Yorkshire and the Humber is currently home to 25 Combined Cadet Forces (CCF).  Two of the contingents launched last year – St Lawrence Academy CCF in Scunthorpe and Penistone Grammar School CCF in South Yorkshire – are now parading around 80 cadets each, both with significant numbers of Cadet Force Adult Volunteers supporting. Approval has also been given for a CCF (Army) section at Sir John Nelthorpe School in Brigg, North Lincolnshire. They will begin parading in September 2024, initially with around 40 cadets. Overall, cadet numbers have seen a steady incline in Yorkshire and the Humber, now exceeding pre-Covid figures after experiencing a pandemic pause. Additionally, we have supported schools with funding applications for infrastructure, resources, equipment and experiences to help improve recruitment and retention within their contingents. In the region, approximately £75,000 has been awarded across 11 CCFs in the last 12 months.

Progression Opportunities

We held the 2nd Annual Cadet Apprenticeship and Careers Fair in February 2024 at ERS Silver award winning employer, Askham Bryan College.  Back by popular demand, the event returned bigger and better – held in a larger space to hold our increased number of participating employers and attending cadets.  Fifty employers attended and met cadets who were there to explore future employability opportunities and career pathways. The engagement team looks forward to welcoming cadets when the Careers Fair runs again in February 2025. We also look forward to new learning and development events running in 2024, such as the Cadet Forces Business and Enterprise Study Weekend in July.

Spreading the word

RFCA YH supports the Cadet Review, a magazine that features news stories, events, achievements and successes of our cadets and adult volunteer leaders from across Yorkshire and the Humber. Published tri-annually and with 9,000 copies in circulation per year, an online version is also available, making it more accessible to our cadet community and beyond.

The Editor, Colonel David Fuller says, “The Cadet Review has been going strong for almost 20 years now, serving as a fantastic tool to promote the cadet experience. Thanks to all the inspirational stories shared by contributors, the magazine continues to be a valuable platform that showcases the great work from the Sea, Army, Air and Combined Cadet Forces.”

Inform and inspire

RFCA organised and delivered four successful His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant Award events in each county which welcomed the respective HM Lord-Lieutenant, civic leaders and senior military officers. In addition to the Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAV) recognised for their exceptional contribution to the forces, fourteen cadets were made Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadet this year for their superlative work and commitment. To celebrate the voice of the cadet experience and to inform and inspire audiences of this achievement, we produced video reels that featured the cadets sharing their cadet experience. Overall, the cadet video reels have received 7,000+ views on our channels. 

Making a difference

Our youth programmes would not be possible without the large network of CFAVs. The volunteers manage the delivery of the activities, administration and learning, ensuring young people are given a memorable and meaningful cadet experience. They take time from their personal lives to attend parade night at least twice a week, attend basic training, teach the cadet syllabus and oversee the safety (and fun!) of the cadets.  They are an essential pillar of the cadet programme, instilling the foundational skills and knowledge for cadets’ successful progression to employability, higher education, military service and more.

Steady increase

Adult Volunteer numbers have experienced a proportional increase to match our steady intake of cadets, steadily returning to pre-pandemic numbers.  Over the past 12 months, Humberside and South Yorkshire ACF (HSY ACF) particularly has witnessed a remarkable influx of new CFAVs. A total of 65 individuals have joined the ranks as adult volunteers during this period.

Major Tim Troughton, County Training Officer, HSY ACF, says,

“We are pleased to report that the recruitment of CFAVs within HSY ACF is in excellent shape. With us currently standing at 193 active volunteers, we are operating at a commendable 92.8%. Moreover, the addition of new CFAVs over the past year demonstrates our commitment to supporting the growth and development of our cadets. We are proud of the dedication shown by our volunteers and remain optimistic about the future of CFAV recruitment within our organisation. This surge in recruitment reflects the attractiveness of the organisation as a volunteering opportunity and underscores the dedication of individuals towards supporting youth development.”

Spotlight on our stars

The RFCA YH launched a mini online campaign that ran alongside National Volunteers’ Week (June 2023) which featured volunteer testimonies about the positive impact they have on the cadet community and the benefits of volunteering for the cadet programme. The campaign received favourable engagement and excellent reach and over 5,000 views across our channels.  We look forward to running this campaign again in June 2024 which will showcase new profiles of adult volunteers in Yorkshire and the Humber from across all service programmes.

Highlighting honours

We seek to share stories that will celebrate the achievements and milestones of our adult volunteers.  In December 2023, Major Mike Wootton was featured on our channels and in the press for his exceptional length (50+ years) of service as a CFAV.  The content received an impressive 8,510 views and 549 engagements on social media platforms and YouTube. From the overwhelming response from this content, we will continue to cover human-interest stories about our CFAVs that celebrate their commitment and invaluable contributions to our cadet programme.

Ensuring Reserve Forces thrive in Yorkshire and the Humber

RFCA YH champions the value of the Reserve Forces and opportunities that offer reservists a chance to further develop their military training and skills. The Reserve Forces also play a key role in linking us with regional employers, helping us forge relationships with organisations that will support the forces community. The RFCA is committed to supporting efforts that will further reservist recruitment and retention.

Supporting Adventurous Training

Reservists’ adventurous training is a key component of individual training progression that provides invaluable understanding of fundamental military skills such as planning, organisation, leadership, personnel management and administration. Expeditions can take place anywhere in the world and are designed to prepare service personnel for ‘real risk’ operations. It lends to an expeditionary element offering a range of physical and mental challenges and readiness for adverse elements, situations and environments.

RFCA YH supported several training opportunities this past year.  Top highlights include:  

Supporting Reserve Forces recruitment

RFCA YH provided funds to support 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (£680) which went towards digital recruitment efforts/paid online campaigns on their social media channels. The campaign promoted open events and generated leads for potential recruits.  The online efforts support open events and increases visibility to inform new audiences on how to join the Reserve Forces.

Linking the military with society

The Employer Engagement Team supported breakfast briefings, Business Challenge Visitor Days and open evenings. These events offered regional employers and the wider public an opportunity to meet our reservists to learn more about the Reserve Forces and ways of working with the armed forces community. Attendance has been favourable so far with the RFCA funding five such days this year at tri-service events which welcomed over 100 attendees.

Raise the profile

RFCA YH will debut its new Reserve Forces video in Autumn 2024 which will feature regional reservists along with their civilian workplace employers. The aim is to deliver messaging about the benefits of employing reservists and employers’ wider support for the Armed Forces Community.  Using case studies, we will communicate this messaging through impactful testimony and interviews featuring reservists and their employers along with footage of the reservist working in their military environment.


RFCA YH ran a social media campaign during Armed Forces Week 2023 when we featured profiles of reservists from across Yorkshire and the Humber.  It was an opportunity to showcase the different roles on offer and understand the importance of serving as a reservist. The campaign supported ‘Join the Reserve Forces’ messaging. To date, the campaign received over 9,000 views across our social media channels. We hope to run a similar campaign with new profiles in 2024.

Providing support to units

Last year, the RFCA provided over £16,000 in special grants to reserve units for kit and signage improvements and engagement events.

Funds supported several projects including the following highlights:

Our Volunteer Estate

The Estates Team serve as the custodians of our buildings where our cadets and reservists meet, work and train.  Our surveyors and administrators oversee a total of 149 properties – 139 cadet facilities and ten reserve centres-  and in the past year, carried out 3007 works and 531 statutory works.  From complex upgrades to routine improvements, the team ensures the progress and completion of projects from start to finish and that our estate is safe and fit for purpose. In the past year, the team received a 99% satisfaction rate.


Re-Optimisation projects focus on improving and transforming space for local cadet and reservists and their operations. At Skipton’s 264 Squadron facilities, £700,000 was invested to build an extension at the rear of the building forming two new classrooms, office and store. The property has become a joint cadet centre serving both the Air Training Corps and Army Cadet Force. At Mona House in Sutton, £600,000 was invested in refurbishing an existing Drill Hall building to accommodate the ACF with classrooms, drill hall, toilets, office and store.

These projects were completed in May 2024.

Mandatory upgrades for Reserves

As part of the Land Infrastructure and Improvement Fund (LIIF), Roberts Bar in Carlton Barracks, Leeds was upgraded with a full redecoration, replacement of tables and chairs, re-upholstered the long bar and re-carpeting. Additionally, space at the barracks was repurposed to create separate male and female locker changing rooms with a structural waterproofing system to keep the space dry and damp free.

Ongoing upkeep and maintenance are routinely carried out across the region’s barracks and centres. These works include re-roofing, re-pointing, re-decorating and re-cladding. The works ensure the preservation of our existing facilities so they can be used for years to come.  Locations where works were carried out this past year include (not limited to) barracks in Middleton, Halifax, Londesborough and Wakefield and Bradford.

Refurbishments for cadet units

Several cadet huts across Yorkshire and the Humber have had a refresh to ensure facilities are suitable and fit for purpose.   Our surveyors have worked on projects to improve function, adaptability and appearance. Some of these works include new re-roofing, re-pointing, re-cladding, and touched up signage. The collective works contribute to improved standards for teaching and training.

Selected projects include:

Working with employers

The Employer Engagement Team works with Ministry of Defence’s Defence Relationship Management team to establish open and strategic relationships with employers.  The team serves as a vital link that brings together military and business communities. They work with employers,  promoting the importance of reservists and adult volunteers in the workplace, the skills and abilities they can bring to their organisation and the significance of signing the Armed Forces Covenant and joining the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

Armed Forces Covenant milestones

During Armed Forces Week 2023, Skipton Building Society re-committed to the Armed Forces Covenant which marked our 700th signatory.  Less than a year later, we welcomed our 800th signatory, Castings Technology International, who were also awarded Bronze ERS.  We look forward to working with them on their journey to achieve Silver in due course. 

Gold and Silver ERS celebrated

Yorkshire and the Humber had a record-breaking 32 employers achieve Silver ERS this year and a commendable three employers reach Gold ERS status.

Our Silver ERS employers were celebrated at a formal event at York Racecourse in September where our four regional Lord-Lieutenants presented the awards to employers from their respective counties. 

In November 2023, we celebrated a total of 13 employers at the Gold ERS ceremony at a shared event with North of England RFCA . As part of the day’s event, the 2023 Gold ERS employers were VIP guests for York’s Royal Gun Salute to mark the 75th birthday of His Majesty, The King which took place in Museum Gardens against the backdrop of the historical abbey ruins. The award presentation event followed at York Hospitium, which is conveniently located in the Gardens.

Silver Award winners

The following Yorkshire and the Humber businesses achieved Silver ERS this year:

North Yorkshire

East Riding of Yorkshire

South Yorkshire

West Yorkshire

The following Yorkshire and the Humber businesses achieved Gold ERS this year:

Gold Award winners

Guided consultation

During the 2024 ERS ‘Expressions of Interest’ and ‘Open Application’ windows, the Employer Engagement Team hosted a series of online workshops to support organisations interested in progressing to the next level on ERS. The team conducted sessions with 100 forces-friendly employers advising them on expert tips on how to achieve top honours, guiding them to next steps, and ensuring applications are comprehensive, meeting the MOD’s requirements.

Bridging the military with society

The team rolled out its first-ever military business expo in spring 2023 at Doncaster and has since expanded to locations throughout Yorkshire and the Humber including Bradford, Sheffield and Hull.  Over 200 businesses have come on board to engage with the military community and reinforce their commitment to creating policies and programmes that focus on employees in the forces who serve as reservists, CFAVs, are veterans or are family of those who are actively serving.    The success of the inaugural series of expos has cemented the team’s plans to expand to additional cities in the coming year. RFCA YH also supports events such as breakfast mornings and networking evenings where civic leaders, city councils, chambers of commerce and regional employers come together to champion fair employment opportunities for ex and current military personnel.

Experiential events

Learning Days enable forces-friendly employers in the region to experience life as a reservist and learn the skills and activities that are required to be in the Reserve Forces. In June, 20 employers visited RAF Leeming where they were welcomed to a day of reservist work and exercises. In addition to Learning Days, the team also offered ‘Business Days’ where employers visit Strensall Barracks to participate in military training. Exercises carried out on these days are meant to build teamwork and leadership skills and attract new reservist recruits.

Beating the Retreat

RFCA YH and North of England RFCA welcomed regional forces-friendly employers to Helles Barracks, Catterick Garrison for the Infantry Training Centre Beating Retreat. It was an evening of impressive pageantry and military musical excellence. Guests were welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mrs Jo Ropner, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Huxley and the Bands of The Royal Yorkshire Regiment, Corps of Drums, Bugles of the Rifles and Association Buglers and the Associated Scottish Regimental Pipers.

Reaching our communities

RFCA YH aims to bridge the Armed Forces with the local community and seeks ways where we can connect with civic leaders and give back to local charities and organisations. This past year we have enjoyed opportunities where we have been able to help, support, assist and lead.

Yorkshire Curry

RFCA YH was delighted to support The Yorkshire Big Curry Lunch at The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in York in June 2023.  The event raised funds for the Army Benevolent Fund – The Solders’ Charity which helps soldiers, past and present, and their families for life. 

St Nick’s Nature

In May 2023, RFCA YH spent the day volunteering on the banks of the River Ouse in York to clear the landscape and help with the tidying of the river walk. Led by the horticultural staff from St. Nick’s, the charity is committed to maintaining green space and wildlife and managing green corridors making York a more sustainable city.

York Food Bank

 In December 2023, employees from RFCA YH personally donated nearly 100kg of food and care products to York Food Bank for distribution throughout their five food bank centres across York. Donated items included a generous supply of childcare goods, toiletries and food.

Dementia Forward

In January 2024, RFCA YH created a raffle for prizes that raised £113.00 for Dementia Forward. Dementia Forward is a local charity supporting people living with dementia and their families across York and North Yorkshire.

Great Yorkshire Show

 In July 2023, RFCA YH were on location in our tent on the ground’s military village.  We were joined by local regional cadets who welcomed visitors interested in learning about the cadet experience whether it was joining as an adult volunteer or cadet, or an employer looking for further information. The week’s highlight included a visit from HRH The Duke of Gloucester and HM Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mrs Jo Ropner who took time to chat with the cadets. Many thanks to all who served as fantastic ambassadors on behalf of the cadet forces and employer engagement programmes.

Building our membership

The RFCA members serve as ambassadors to our military, connecting the armed forces with businesses and communities in Yorkshire and the Humber. We continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that our engagement is active and that our membership is robust.

New members since April 2023

New Association members since April 2023

Membership composition, March 2024 statute target and actual number

RFCA building crest dated 1911

We ensured value for money on behalf of the public

Managing public funds effectively

Where our money comes from

The RFCA’s activities were funded by a mix of external funding and regionally generated income (RGI) with our overall income totalling £8.9 million during the year.

External sources

Around £7.75 million of external funding came from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for employer support, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) for property and facilities management, and single service sources for reserve and cadet administration.

Regionally Generated Income

Our Regionally Generated Income (RGI) totalled £1,184,569 and was generated through business rates rebates and lettings revenue. Whilst the amount of RGI generated within FY 23/24 is higher than the preceding year, it is broadly in line with the anticipated funding generation and a reflection of both the efforts put into our Alternative Venues Schemes as well as the general inflation affecting the economy.

Pie chart showing RFCA’s money (87 per cent or £7.75 million) comes from external sources with 13 per cent, or £1,184,569 coming from income generated in the region.

How we spent external funding

Headline projects that attracted funding during the year:

A pie chart showing how our external funding was spent

How we spent regionally generated money

Key notable expenditure on behalf of our region included:

Ongoing refurbishments and repairs include:

In total £5.8M from a variety of funding streams was spent during financial year 23/24 on maintaining and improving the Yorkshire and Humberside Volunteer Estate.

Pie chart shows how regionally generated income was spent during 2023/24

The year ahead

The year ahead will be dominated by the introduction of the Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) contract in August; this will see the estates team re-role from being estate managers to contract assurers whilst working alongside our contractual partners Vivo Defence Services Limited. The team will continue to ensure that the estate is in a suitably well maintained and compliant condition so as to provide conditions for Reserves and Cadets to thrive within our region.  

Numbers at a glance

Community cadets in Yorkshire and the Humber by year

Sea Cadets959800771824865
Army Cadets2,3222,4462,0962,3442,496
Air Cadets1,7411,8461,4171,8232,544
Combined Cadet Force——–1,3771,44914051,736
TOTAL 5,022*6,4695,7336,3967,641
* CCF numbers not included

Adult volunteers in Yorkshire and the Humber by year

Sea Cadets268459480246508
Yorkshire (N&W)ACF239205233233194
HSY ACF235194232233278
Army Cadets474399465466472
Air Cadets523535495593634
Combined Cadet Force95156152
*CCF numbers not included

Reserve Forces in Yorkshire and the Humber by year

Royal Naval Reserves106111132123103
Army Reserves2,4162,4062,3832,2662,002
RAF reserves193186177200189

Armed Forces Covenant signatories by year

YearNumber of organisations

ERS Silver and Gold winners in Yorkshire and the Humber by year

Silver AwardsGold Awards

Membership numbers

Membership typeStatute targetActual number
Cadet forces1225
Associate members5157

Platform performance at a glance – metrics across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, X and You Tube (2023-2024 vs 2022-2023) and media coverage

Fans and followers indicate subscribers to our channels, impressions are the number of times our content was seen, including multiple views from individual users and reach is the total number of people who see our content. Video views includes activity across all five platforms.

The Communications Team has shifted delivery of content, focussing on personal testimony from reservists, employers, cadets and adult volunteers and highlighting events in local communities. The aim is to extend beyond our channels’ firmly established subscribers and to tap into new audiences such as an employer looking to support our armed forces community, a prospective recruit ready to join the Reserve Forces, a young person interested in becoming a cadet or an adult exploring ways to volunteer. We hope that our channels serve as a space where we can inform and inspire through showcasing experiences and journeys.

In the coming year, the Communications team will build upon these efforts and continue to create content that will further RFCA YH messaging and supported activity.

Employer Recognition Scheme

The scheme is a way for forces friendly employers to show their public commitment to supporting staff that are part of the armed forces community.

Learn more about the scheme