Delivering for the future of cadets and reserves

RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber's annual report, Spring 2022

Foreword

RFCA Chairman, David Rhodes

Chairman David Rhodes gives his assessment of the RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber's challenges and achievements in 2021/22 and looks forward to the year ahead.

Welcome to our 2021/22 annual report.

This has once again been a challenging year, this time one of recovery and normalisation, not just for the association itself, but also for our reserves and cadets.

Cadets bounce-back

Importantly, we have started to see a definite cadet bounce-back after almost two years of disruption to training and recruiting. Our regional cadet numbers are starting to return to 2019 levels with interest extremely high and the recruiting of adult instructors is progressing well, although more are needed. The cadet expansion scheme has restarted and should continue to go from strength to strength. We have also achieved some key national ‘firsts’ with the introduction of the first ‘ParentPay’ scheme within the ACF, the first DCCT computerised range at Driffield Cadet Training Centre, and the first aviation flight simulation centre at Harrogate Air Cadet Centre. Importantly, new cadet centres at Barton-on-Humber and Beverley are now up and running. These are notable successes that we should all be proud of and I am confident that within a year or two we will see all three cadet forces thriving once again.

Reserves in our region

Reserve numbers across the region remain low and it is important we do what we can to assist, so we have been supporting through our regional funds a number of recruiting and retention events. We were also witness to another key ‘first’ within the reserves, with the deployment of a platoon of 4 YORKS to British Army Training Unit Kenya during the year to provide force protection. This deployment was very much a pathfinder for further operational but non-combat mobilisations and the early indications are that it was very successful. The tour was also perhaps an early indicator of the changes that are coming for the reserves in general, and the army in particular: the Integrated Review and RF30 anticipate significant changes in task and structure, including the establishment of a national reserves only combat arms brigade, and closer to home we will see the creation of a northern district headquarters providing the firm base in Yorkshire, the North-East and North-West within the year. These changes create challenges for us in supporting our reserves but also opportunities and it is important that we are able to provide wise counsel as the new organisations find their feet.

Our Association

Turning to the work of the association itself over the past year. Flagship and headline estate projects always steal the limelight and some of them are covered in detail later in this report but it is important to remember that much of our work consists of maintaining a safe and fit-for-purpose estate for both our reserves and cadets and this year has been no exception, with a multitude of inspections, surveys, maintenance, repairs and enhancement projects all conducted by a dedicated and competent team within the association. Our budget from the MOD for the coming year is close to agreement and although it is slightly less than we had hoped for, I am confident we can conduct our business and achieve our planned outputs with it. Our future projects list over the next year is healthy and crucially we have been able to carry over almost £900k of regional funds to help fund these.

Continued to engage

We have, once again, had a successful year of employer engagement, with over a hundred new armed forces covenant memberships, and over twenty gold and silver employer recognition scheme awards within the region this year. Both nationally and regionally these programmes have been hugely successful and our future challenge will be to understand how to fully support what is now a significant quantum of supportive employers throughout the region.

We were able this year to once again promote the work of reserves, cadets and the association at the Great Yorkshire Show in July and host highly successful face-to-face Lord-Lieutenant award ceremonies in each of our four counties. The next year will see us returning to our full events programme.

I was personally delighted to welcome members to York Racecourse for the Autumn Association meeting after over a year of virtual events. Our regional membership, like so many other voluntary organisations, has taken a hit over the past two years and now stands at a little under 85%. A key activity for us all in the coming year will be to modernise the role of the membership and entice new members to the association from as diverse a professional base across the region as we can.

Looking ahead

So, looking ahead, we have much work to do, not just in supporting our reserves and cadets but also in ensuring the association itself continues to thrive and whilst I thank all members for their support, counsel and assistance over the past year, I also ask for your continued support in shaping the changes that are coming our way.

Cadet somersaults into a lake

We delivered for cadets across the region

Supporting cadets

How we deliver for our cadets

  • Our professional support staff embedded in the region’s two Army Cadet Force (ACF) headquarters provide logistical and administration expertise to the region’s ACF units, including support for recruitment of adult volunteers.
  • Our team of expert property professionals ensure both Army and Air Cadets have great places to meet and train by ensuring the upkeep and development of cadet centres.
  • The special grants we award help our cadet units thrive.
  • We promote the achievements of cadets among our wide network of members, stakeholders and social media channels as well as via the Cadet Review, a publication which is available across the region.
  • 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.

The cadet movement largely returned to its pre-pandemic strength during 2021/22 with both cadet and adult volunteer numbers showing a strong bounce-back for both the Army and Air Cadets and adult volunteers increasing for the Sea Cadets.

The work of the RFCA underpinned this recovery for the Army and Air Cadets to whom our services are primarily directed.

Whether it was arranging adventurous trips away from home, recruiting adult volunteers, developing great places for them to train or helping to pay for some of the little extras, the RFCA worked to enable a brilliant Cadet Experience for thousands of the region’s young people in 2021/22.

On top of that came our work to promote the achievements of the cadets in the wider community and at Government level as well as our support for the growing number of units based in local schools.

The RFCA also provided financial support through its Special Grants which are designed to help cadet units truly thrive. £500 went to Yorkshire (North and West) ACF’s A Company to help fund a development day for adult volunteers at Wykeham Lakes near Scarborough. A further £5,900 was allocated during the year to subsidise the amount cadets from Humberside and South Yorkshire ACF need to pay towards the cost of a joint exercise they have planned at Easter to Cyprus.

Under our watch, the Cadet Expansion Scheme made real progress with cadet numbers growing and we also worked on promoting the achievements of all cadets across the region through in-person events as well as via social media channels and publications.

Number of community cadets by year

20172018201920202021
Sea Cadets575805959828759
Army cadets2,5152,3122,3222,0622,294
Air Cadets1,7341,8121,7411,5731,734
Total community
cadets
4,8854,9295,1224,4634,787

Providing expert support that guarantees a fantastic Cadet Experience

The RFCA has 28 professional support staff embedded at the ACF’s two county headquarters in Driffield and Strensall and their role is to provide logistic and administrative support to ACF units. This support is focussed around the recruitment of volunteers, safeguarding and the booking and accessing of training areas, storage of weapons and ammunition, and vehicle fleet management. This is a considerable role, not least because Yorkshire (North and West) ACF has the largest number of cadets and adult volunteers of any county in the country.

The RFCA’s professional support staff provide the sort of continuity that would be impossible for the Army to provide and during 2021/22 they once again showed their worth to Army cadets across the region:

Numbers of adult volunteers

20172018201920202021
Yorkshire (North and West) ACF205193239205233
Humberside and South Yorks ACF231218235194232
Army Cadets236411474399465
Sea Cadets225257268459480
Air Cadets531487523535495
Woman in front of computer with ParentPay system on it

The RFCA introduced online payment systems for parents of cadets

The RFCA put in place systems that mean parents of cadets in Yorkshire are the first in the UK to be able to pay for their child’s cadet activities online. RFCA administration officer Becky Wathey worked with detachments across Yorkshire (North and West) ACF to ensure parents all had access to ParentPay – a system that enables them to pay  online rather than with cash. “It’s convenient for parents and saves a lot of administration time for adult volunteers,” said Becky.

Professional support staff member with potential adult volunteer

The RFCA recruited 150 potential adult volunteers for the ACF

The RFCA’s work to recruit new adult volunteers for the Army Cadets paid off with professional support staff signing up more than 150 potential new recruits  during 2021/22. The RFCA’s Andy Marshall, pictured below, said: “Recruiting adult volunteers for the Army Cadet Force is an important role for the RFCA and we work closely with the ACF to ensure they get the complete training they need.”

Man at computer with shooting range in background

RFCA installed computerised shooting range in cadet headquarters

The RFCA helped the ACF pay for the installation of a new computer-based shooting system at Humberside and South Yorkshire ACF’s Driffield headquarters – opening up new opportunities for cadets. The RFCA’s Andy Marshall was key to setting up the system which is the only one of its kind at any cadet centre in the country. Since its opening in October 2021, 1,000 cadets have used it.

man in RFCA t shirt in computer suite

RFCA delivered brilliant new online learning tools for cadets

A £20,000 investment by the RFCA ensured that thousands of cadets will have access to the very best online facilities while on training within the Cadet Training Centre. We installed 15 new networked computers, with  the very latest software and a state-of-the-art printer at Yorkshire (North and West) ACF’s headquarters in Strensall in a project led by professional support staff member Graeme Elstob pictured.

Creating brilliant cadet centres that bring new opportunities

The RFCA maintains and develops some 139 sites on behalf of the Army Cadets , the Air Cadets and Combined Cadets and our work ranges from carrying out routine maintenance to overseeing major refurbishments and redevelopment projects.

During 2021/22, we carried out 537 repairs on the buildings that serve cadet units and achieved 100 per cent satisfaction rates. In addition, we carried out 664 statutory tests to make sure equipment such as fire alarms, wiring, legionella air conditioning were serviced and maintained to industry standards.

Major projects we did for the cadets in the year included:

Three men, one in Air Cadet Volunteer uniform, one in high-visibility jacket in room that has been gutted ready for upgrade

RFCA created indoor shooting range in revamp of Leeds Air Cadet centre

A £130,000 upgrade of 168 (City of Leeds) Squadron’s cadet centre was completed during the year and created an indoor shooting range, classroom spaces, a new storage area and much-needed indoor lavatories. The Squadron operates from two huts in Beeston and, once work was completed on refurbishing the first hut, the RFCA worked with contractors to begin upgrading  the second.

RAF cadet volunteer smiles in cadet centre staircase

RFCA's work meant cadets started the year in pristine surroundings

Cadets from 59 (Huddersfield) Squadron began 2022 in pristine style after their centre was given new lick of paint by the RFCA. When adult volunteer Harry Wormald took charge of the squadron, the first thing he noticed was that the centre hadn’t been decorated since he was a cadet there himself. So he asked the RAF Air Cadets for a revamp and now, thanks to the RFCA, it’s been done!

RFCA's development cleared the way for region's first cadet aviation centre

The RFCA’s £750,000 redevelopment of Harrogate’s historic drill hall brought an extra bonus for cadets – the creation of a virtual reality aviation centre. The centre was the brainchild of the Air Cadets’ Central and East Yorkshire Wing’s aviation officer Adam Waudby and has only been made possible because of the extra space created by the RFCA’s £750,000 refurbishment of the town’s joint cadet centre.

Promoting the achievements of cadets

One of the RFCA’s roles is to champion the contribution of the cadet movement in local communities across the region. We do that through the prestigious community events we stage every year as well as through our social media channels which we use to amplify content issued by cadet units. In addition, we pay for the printing and distribution of the Cadet Review which showcases the achievements of cadets from all three services. In 2021/22 we paid for the printing of 3,000 copies of four issues of the Cadet Review and arranged distribution to all cadet units in the region, including school-based Combined Cadet Forces.

Enabling more school children to access the Combined Cadet Force

The number of school children who became part of a CCF in the region grew by 147 to just over 1,400 during the year, bringing the figure back to pre-pandemic levels. Under the Ministry of Defence and Department for Education-backed Cadet Expansion Scheme, the aim is to increase participation by growing cadet numbers in existing units by around 20 per cent over the next two academic years.
skiers heading up a mountain

We made a difference for the region's reserves

Delivering for reserves

How we deliver for reserves

  • The special grants we award each year help ensure reserves have access to the very best adventurous training activities and can participate in civic events in support of the reserve forces.
  • Our team of property experts ensure the buildings where reserves work and train are properly maintained and that they are developed in a way that ensures the needs of reserves across the region are met.

The number of reserves in Yorkshire and the Humber dipped in 2021/22 and is now broadly at 2019 pre-pandemic levels. However, the year demonstrated as never before the growing importance of reserves to the UK’s defence capability with part-time Forces embracing deployments which once would have been considered the domain of regular military personnel only.

An example of this came when 34 reserve infantry soldiers from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment were deployed to Kenya to provide the guard force for a 1,000-strong battle group at the British Army Training Centre in Nanyuki. The task is usually done by regulars and this was the first time a reserve infantry platoon had been called on to do the job.

Number of reservists by service and year

2019202020212022
Royal Naval Reserves85106111132
Army Reserves2,1912,4162,4062,383
RAF reserves154193186177
Total2,4302,7152,7032,383

Providing financial support to reserve units

Last year, the RFCA provided £30,000 in financial support to reserve units to enhance the opportunities available to reserves, particularly when it comes to adventurous training.

The money went towards funding:

Man strokes a rhino

RFCA helped fund reserves in Kenya to go on safari

The RFCA paid for 10 reserves from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment to go on a safari trip at the end of a mobilisation in which they had provided the guard force for a battlegroup based in Kenya. It also helped pay for other adventurous training activities by reserves in the regiment.

Four men in skiing clothing on a snowy mountain

RFCA helped reserves hone their skiing skills

The RFCA funded a number of training exercises aimed at helping reserves improve their skiing skills during the year. Among others, we contributed towards helping reserves from 106 Field Squadron (pictured) and 299 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers to head to the slopes in Austria.

Major Phil Carrotte in the Antartic

RFCA helped fund a Yorkshire reservist's Antarctic expedition

The RFCA contributed £250 towards funding for Major Phil Carrotte, a reservist from the Army Reserve Reinforcement Group, to take part in the Antarctic Quest 21 Expedition to honour Sir Ernest Shackleton.

reserves from 4 PARA march through the streets of Leeds

RFCA helped fund Yorkshire reservists freedom parade in Leeds

The RFCA contributed £1,500 towards allowing reservists from 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment to hold a VIP reception to mark their Freedom of the City of Leeds parade.

We developed and maintained great places for reserves to work and train

The RFCA maintains and develops 26 Army Reserve Centres which include modern centres built since 2000 as well as historic drill halls which have stood as iconic buildings within their communities for more than a century.

Throughout 2021/22, there was considerable volatility in the cost of both raw materials and labour and this meant the RFCA adopted a cautious approach to its estate management – focusing on essential, time-critical maintenance rather than development projects.

During the year, we responded to 1,141 requests for repairs on reserve buildings, achieving 100 per cent satisfaction from our units. We also carried out 535 statutory tests which including checks on fire safety equipment, air conditioning, lifts and garage doors and equipment.

The major repair projects involved tackling the roofs on some of our oldest buildings, such as the ongoing work at Huddersfield Drill Hall and a new roof repair project at Carlton Barracks in Leeds.

The RFCA also did some preparatory work in readiness for the resumption of Project Aintree, a national initiative which was temporarily on hold in 2021/22 to install top of the range armouries to store weapons.

As the Ministry of Defence reviews the military estate nationally, the RFCA’s property experts contributed to discussions and outlined their proposals for the best way to develop the reserve and cadet estate in the region.

Large red-brick building

RFCA undertook major roof repairs across the region

The roof at Carlton Barracks in Leeds was among the considerable repair projects that the RFCA undertook in the year with work continuing at the roof at Huddersfield Drill Hall too. In total, the work carried out to upgrade roofs of the region’s reserve buildings totalled £344,000.

Award winners from South Yorkshire Police - Chief Inspector Dave Struggles, Deputy Chief Constable Tim Forber, Mark Sutton and Paul Carpenter

We secured employers' support for the military

Working with employers

How we work with employers

  • We use our networks within the business community and beyond to encourage employers to support the military by signing the Armed Forces Covenant and becoming active participants in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
  • We offer advice and support to employers who have staff from a military background – be they reserves, spouses, veterans or cadet force adult volunteers – or show them how to use our channels to reach potential employees from the military community.
  • We advise and support employers wanting to progress in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and offer networking opportunities – such as our prestigious Gold and Silver Award ceremonies –  through which they can deepen their relationship with the region’s military.

The RFCA resumed developing its networks with the region’s employers through in-person events during the year, after a prolonged period where this was not possible due to Covid restrictions.

As a result, we were able to stage prestigious ceremonies such as the Silver Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Awards at which we could pay tribute to 16 of the region’s top forces-friendly employers.

For the first time ever, we also staged the Gold Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in the region. In the past, this has been organised as a single, national event in London. However, after a Covid-related hiatus in 2020, RFCA Yorkshire and the Humber joined forces with East Midlands RFCA and North West RFCA to stage a joint event at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Number of organisations signing up to the Armed Forces Covenant by year in Yorkshire and the Humber

YearNumber of organisations
2021/22139
2020/21154
2019/2097
2018/1966
2017/1838

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

Silver AwardsGold Awards
2021168
2020188
201981
2018123
2017151

Silver Award winners

Gold Award winners

HM Lord-Lieutenant of West-Yorkshire, Ed Anderson with HM Lord-Lieutenants from across Yorkshire, the North West and East Midlands

RFCA staged first-ever regional Gold Awards

Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenants from across Yorkshire, Humberside, the East Midlands and the North West joined the RFCA for the first regional ceremony to present winners of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Awards. The event was held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds and included a range of guest speakers including Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty.

Corps of Drums of HM Band of the Royal Marines, Scotland open proceedings

RFCA staged glittering event for Silver Award winners

The RFCA paid tribute to 16 of Yorkshire and the Humber’s most forces-friendly organisations when it was joined by all four of the region’s four Lord-Lieutenants at a special ceremony in York. Those attending were treated to an impressive display from the Corps of Drums, The band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (Scotland), and a duet from 4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment

Civilian group in front of artillery guns

RFCA made sure Gold Award winners from 2020 did not miss out

The RFCA paid a special tribute to the region’s 2020 winners of Gold Awards under the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme. Due to Covid restrictions, they missed out on an award ceremony so the RFCA for Yorkshire and Humber joined with the North of England RFCA to invite the two region’s winners to York’s Royal Gun Salute in honour of HRH The Prince of Wales’ birthday at the city’s Museum Gardens, followed by lunch at a nearby hotel.

Adult volunteer talks to young child

We won hearts and minds of communities

Reaching our communities

With Covid-19 restrictions eased by the summer 2021, the RFCA was able to resume inviting the public and stakeholders to events promoting the value of the cadets and the military.

We promoted the cadets and the role of cadet force adult volunteers as well as reserves at an extended four-day Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate and staged four Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant Award ceremonies – one in each of the region’s counties.

Cadet being introduced to Prince Charles

RFCA promoted the cadets at the Great Yorkshire Show

The RFCA invited pupils from the Combined Cadet Force at Astrea Academy Dearne in Barnsley to join its presence in the military village at the show and 13-year-old Caitlyn Keddy was chosen to be presented to the HRH Prince Charles – raising the profile of cadets at the highest level.

Female reserve smiling at Lord Lieutenant during ceremonial line-up

The RFCA celebrated the achievements of reserves and cadets across the region

The RFCA staged four Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenants Awards to reward reserves, cadets and cadet force adult volunteers who had made an outstanding contribution to their unit or local community. The RFCA also produced films of these events so that they could be seen by those unable to attend themselves in person and they attracted thousands of viewers across social media channels.

RFCA logo

The RFCA used social media to promote its work

The RFCA continued to use social media as an important way of maintaining engagement with its communities. During the year, it prioritised content that focussed more rigorously on highlighting the key deliverables of the organisation to support a clearer understanding of its role and remit. Across all channels, the RFCA now has more than 5,000 followers.

RFCA building crest dated 1911

We developed our membership from the community we serve

Building our membership

The RFCA continued to work with stakeholders to build a membership that effectively serves as the military’s permanent ambassador among businesses and communities in the region.

New members since April 2021

There have been no new associate members since April 2021.

Membership composition, March 2022 and statute target

Membership typeStatute targetActual number
Services10179
Cadet forces1221
Representative3525
Total153126
Associate members5149
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 £8.3 million during the year.

External sources

Around £7.5 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 £811,000 and was generated through business rates rebates and lettings revenue. This was on a par with the previous year and due to a fall in income from lettings as a result of Covid 19 restrictions.

Pie chart showing that the overwhelming part of the RFCA’s money (90 per cent of £7.5 million) comes from external sources, with ten per cent or £811,000 coming from income generated in the region.

How we spent external funding

Headline projects that attracted funding during the year, all from DIO, were:

A pie chart showing how our external funding was spent

How we spent regionally generated money

RGI expenditure is approved by the RFCA’s Finance Advisory Board (FAB) in line with Ministry of Defence priorities and local needs.

Some £1.4 million was spent during the financial year, drawing on additional funds carried forward from 20/21.

Key notable expenditure on behalf of our region included:

Pie chart shows how regionally generated income was spent during 2021/22

The year ahead

£895,000 of RGI was carried forward and will continue to contribute towards funding the 2022/23 programme. This relatively high figure was due to the constraints on delivery during lockdown and a conscious decision to reduce capital works during a period of especially high costs driven by a combination of BREXIT and COVID 19.

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