Could the Army Cadet Force be for you?

Photo of Cdts Bishop,Massey and Porter performing a Command Task.

The Stoke Gifford detachment of the Army Cadet Force (ACF) is on the lookout for new recruits as well as adult volunteers.

Located in the after-school club next to St Michael’s Primary School on Ratcliffe Drive, the Cadets are one of the most established detachments in the area, having won numerous awards for winning drill and football competitions.

Once you turn 12 and are in Year 8 of school, you can join the Army Cadets. It is open to both males and females and at the moment, the Stoke Gifford detachment actually has slightly more girls than boys. The Army Cadets are sponsored by the MoD which makes it very affordable to attend – they only ask for a contribution of 25p per night. They parade twice a week; on a Tuesday and Thursday between 7.00pm and 9.30pm.

As a Cadet, you would be able to enjoy an array of activities, many of which are taught in the army. These include weekend camps, drill practice, field craft, weapons training and first aid training.

Whereas in the Scouts and Guides you work towards earning badges, in the Cadets, you earn your star levels. In each level, you have to pass certain subjects that are both practical and theory based. As you go up through the star levels, you will get promoted to a higher cadet rank; starting as a lance corporal, eventually becoming a sergeant major.

Sergeant Instructor Paul Clark, who runs the detachment, believes there are many benefits of joining the Cadets. He said:

“The young people who join the Cadets get so much out of it. As they move up the ranks, they gain management skills. They can earn qualifications such as first aid, BTEC Diplomas and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I have seen so many kids come in here who would hardly say a word and now their confidence has grown so much that they can lead a drill practice and other activities. Most importantly though, they build great friendships; not just here at the detachment but with other cadets throughout Bristol and the whole country.”

Photo of blindfolded cadets performing a simulated rescue of a casualty from a smoke-filled room.

Throughout the year, the Cadets go on four weekend camps to complete various training objectives and an annual camp during the summer which is for 10-12 days. As these trips are supplemented by the MoD, only a small contribution towards the trips is required from the cadets. The annual camp is often seen as the highlight of the year and is held on the Army’s training camps in different locations across the UK. Part of the camp gives cadets the chance to spend a number of nights living out in the field, learning military tactics and fieldcraft in mock ambush situations. Adventurous training is another focus, with abseiling, mountain biking, clay target shooting and kayaking often on the agenda.

Photo of Sgt Gurr, L/Cpl Reynolds and Cdt Bishop receiving their Youth First Aid certificates.

Sport also plays a big part during your time at the Cadets with the chance to take part in national competitions such as football, rugby, orienteering, athletics and many more. This month, Lance Corporal Porter from the Stoke Gifford detachment is one of just two Cadets to be selected from the whole of the South West to join the UK Army Cadet Force football team, which is going over to Kenya in October. The trip will consist of ten days in Kenya building a football academy at a local school, playing football as the UK ACF team and attending a two-day safari.

Photo of the sign outside the base of the Stoke Gifford detachment.

If you think that joining the Army Cadets as a recruit or an adult volunteer is for you, then you can do so by visiting

If you would like to see the cadets ‘in action’, you are welcome to attend one of their parades at the detachment base on Ratcliffe Drive to find out more information.

Photos: 1 Cdts Bishop,Massey and Porter performing a Command Task. 2 Blindfolded cadets performing a simulated rescue of a casualty from a smoke-filled room. 3 Sgt Gurr, L/Cpl Reynolds and Cdt Bishop receiving their Youth First Aid certificates. 4 Base of the Stoke Gifford detachment on Ratcliffe Drive.

This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 6 & 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Share this page: