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St Benedict's CCF celebrates 85 years

Published by St Benedict's School on Monday 2nd of February 2015

Selfless Commitment, Integrity, Discipline, Courage, Respect for Others, and Loyalty

These are the core values of the British Armed Forces and remain as important to St Benedict's School Combined Cadet Force as when it was established in 1930. On a cold but gloriously sunny afternoon on Friday 23rd January, alumnae, parents and staff of St Benedict's School and Cardinal Wiseman School watched the Combined Cadet Force parade to mark the occasion of its 85th anniversary. The inspection of the Guard of Honour was undertaken by former Commanding Officer of the Corps, Mr Richard Baker, and was preceded by a Thanksgiving Mass in Ealing Abbey in which Father Alexander Bevan highlighted the CCF's values and how they affected some of the founding members of 'The Corps'. He also told the gathered congregation of the sacrifice made by so many St Benedict's Old Priorians during the World Wars. Those who gave their lives in the service of their country are honoured on the School's War Memorial in the Orchard Hall.

The CCF was founded as the Officer Training Corps on January 24th 1930, and re-named the Combined Cadet Force in 1948. No longer compulsory, the CCF now has seventy-five Cadets, thirty of them from Cardinal Wiseman School - an arrangement which benefits both schools. This year's thirty-four recruits were split almost 50:50 between the two schools. Already this academic year the Cadets have enjoyed a Field Day in the woods near Pirbright; led the School's Remembrance Day ceremony; collected over £600 for the Poppy Appeal and £400 for the War Memorial Fund; and provided a Guard of Honour for a remembrance event in West Ealing. Forthcoming highlights include Exercise Winter's Bite and a range day during February half term, and a field weekend in March. Last November, C/Sgt Kamil Cesarz was asked by the Royal British Legion to launch the 2014 Poppy Appeal at the Cenotaph alongside the singer Joss Stone, and was interviewed by the BBC.

During the reception following the parade, Headmaster Mr Cleugh thanked all for attending to make the afternoon such a success, and drew attention to the photos, quotations and memories shared by those Old Priorians who served in the CCF on display during afternoon tea. The Headmaster also fittingly at this time of commemoration of the centenary of the start of the Great War, launched the School's appeal for the War Memorial Fund, to replace the damaged and incomplete board with a new War Memorial in a more fitting location.

Year 13 student Jeddie Foley (Head of CCF 2014-2015) said: 'It was an honour to lead the parade in front of so many former members of the CCF, and to share with them the privilege of belonging to such a valuable part of School life.' Capt Shaun Hullis (Acting Contingent Commander) added: 'That so many parents, former officers and Old Priorians joined us was testament to the loyalty which the CCF has inspired in previous generations, and to the value which they place on the training which we give and the values which we represent.'

The ceremony evoked memories for many of the alumnae: Paul McGill (OP 1984): ''58 Webbing, Putties, 24 hour rations, Hexy burners, Ponchos, Mud and rain it smells of �. Victory!' Paul Sturt (OP 1984): 'The CCF was probably one of the best activities at school. I have tasted the mud of Crowborough in all its glory!' Richard Warnes (OP 1983): 'Just like coming home!' Kevin Kiernan (OP 1970): 'Thanks for the memories.'
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