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Cadet forces offer challenging and enjoyable activities for young people, and prepare them to play an active part in the community while developing valuable life skills.

The cadet forces comprise of the:

• Sea Cadets

• Royal Marine Cadets

• Army Cadet Force
• Air Training Corps
• Combined Cadet Force

They aim to provide challenging and enjoyable activities for young people living in the UK and certain locations abroad and to better prepare them for their role in the community.

Not only do cadets have the opportunity to learn new skills and engage in adventurous activities in disciplined and well-structured organisations, they may also gain BTEC qualifications based on their achievements. These qualifications equate to 4 GCSEs and may help them in their future education and career.

Adults who volunteer to help with the cadets also have the opportunity to receive useful training and gain recognised qualifications.

Cadets have the chance to learn new skills and engage in adventurous activities in disciplined and well-structured organisations based on the traditions, values and standards of the armed forces. Cadets can also work towards a range of nationally-recognised qualifications which will help with their future education and careers.

Sea Cadets


For orphans of the Crimean War, sleeping in the back streets of England’s sea ports, life looked bleak. To help them, coastal communities banded together to provide places for sailors to pass on nautical skills and training to give these destitute young people a future. This is how, in 1856, the Naval Lads’ Brigade was born.

Soon, they were springing up across the country, and in 1899, Queen Victoria marked their importance to young people by becoming Patron, and giving £10 to the Windsor unit for uniforms. Today we are proud to have, HM The Queen as our Patron.

In 1942 the Naval Lads’ Brigade decided it was time for a name change and the name Sea Cadet Corps was adopted.

The Sea Cadet now proudly boasts over 400 volunteer run units in the UK alone supporting and educating over 14,000 cadets

Over the past 50 years 1 in 60 people in the UK have been Sea Cadets, that’s over one million people. Famous faces that have served as Sea Cadets include Sean Connery, Dan Snow, Paul O’Grady John Prescott, Kenny Ball and Paul Bethany to name a few.


DR150130004 Sea Cadets inspection 4
DR150130004 Sea Cadets inspection 4


Royal Marine Cadets

During 1955 the Royal Marine Cadets where formed.

The Royal Marine Cadets are part of the Sea Cadets family, Royal Marines Cadets enjoy all the exciting activities on water that Sea Cadets do, as well as branching off into serious adventure training too. Specialising in orienteering, field craft and weapons handling is what makes Royal Marines Cadets unique and you can join from the age of 13 to 18.

There are 127 Royal Marines Cadets Detachments within Sea Cadets units across the UK, all led by the Captain Sea Cadets, a serving Royal Navy Captain. The Captain Sea Cadets is supported by our Staff Royal Marines Officer, a serving Colour Sergeant in the Royal Marines, both are on secondment from the Royal Navy to Sea Cadets.

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Army Cadet Force


In 1859 Britain was under threat of a French invasion, and most units of the British Army serving in India following the Indian Mutiny, the Volunteers were formed, a forerunner of today's Territorial Army. A number of Volunteer units formed Cadet Companies.

During 1908 the title Cadet Force was introduced. The Volunteers became the Territorial Army and administration of the Cadet Force was taken over by the Territorial Army Associations.

In 1914 there was a massive expansion of the Cadet Force. During this time the War Office took over the administration of the organisation.

Later on during the Mid-1980s girls were formally enrolled into the ACF following various pilot schemes by a number of counties over many years. Today around 30% of Army Cadets are girls.

The cadet movement celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2010 with over 150 events in communities up and down the country - and beyond - under the banner of Cadet150. The main ceremonial event took place on 6 July when over 1,700 cadets and adult volunteers paraded down the Mall for inspection by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales before joining friends and family and VIP guests for a garden party in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

Still today the ACF is one of the UK's oldest, largest and most successful youth organisations. It has a long and proud history of preparing youngsters for all walks of life and encouraging an active involvement in local communities.


Royal Air Force Air Cadets

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In 1938 Air Commodore Chamier “The Father of The Air Training Corps” set up the Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) with the intention of training young men in various aviation-related skills.

A Royal Warrant was granted in 1941 to the newly formed Air Training Corps in order to deliver air training to youngsters who had the potential of later joining the Royal Air Force.

King George VI also became the Air Commodore – In - Chief

Upon the sudden death of King George VI in 1953, His Royal Highness The Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh became the Air Commodore-in-Chief. The ATC soon after form a long link with The Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

During 1955 the popularity of the Corps was seen and recorded.

Corps Strength:-
39,000 Cadets,
3350 Officers,
1208 Warrant Officers,
4570 Civilian Instructors in 920 Squadrons plus 8 Overseas
Squadrons and 84 Detached Flight's.

The popular presenter Carol Voderman is appointed in 2014 as Honorary Group Captain RAFAC for the duration of her appointment. She is the first female to be appointed Ambassador in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets' 75 year history after taking over from former ambassador Honorary Group Captain Sir Chris Hoy RAFAC. Ms Voderman has stated “The Air Cadets is an inspiring youth organisation for 12 to 20 year olds and with the help of adult volunteers deliver fantastic STEM opportunities for young people across the country each year.”


Combined Cadet Force


The tradition of cadet units in schools goes back over 150 years to the 1850s. In 1948, the Combined Cadet Force was formed, covering cadets from all three Services.

In 1859, the idea of cadet units in schools was developed by the Secretary of State for War, Jonathan Peel - who wrote to public schools and universities, inviting them to form units of the Volunteer Corps. Several schools took up the idea, and the first Cadet Corps in a school was formed in 1860 at Rossall School.

These early units were focused on Army activities, and were usually associated with Rifle Volunteer Battalions for Home Defence, with cadets wearing the uniforms of their parent volunteer battalions. The Corps evolved over time, focusing on Officer Training - and during the World War I and II, many of the young men who served in the units went on to serve their country in the Armed Forces.

Today the Combined Cadet Force contingents are very different to those early groups of young people. Although they are still based on the ethos of the Armed Forces - their focus is on helping young people to develop and reach their full potential by providing challenging, active, adventurous and fun activities.