Change of Command at Cambridge University Officer Training Corps

Lieutenant Colonel Matt Helsby has taken over command of Cambridge University Officer Training Corps (CUOTC) this summer. Lt Col Helsby said: “I thank Lt Col Adrian Garrett and the whole of the CUOTC team for doing such an impressive job re-energising the unit after the impact of the pandemic.”

Lt Col Matt Helsby stands in front of the lake at Coldhams Lane Army Reserve Centre in Cambridge
Lt Col Matt Helsby stands in front of the lake at Coldhams Lane Army Reserve Centre in Cambridge

CUOTC is promoting the great experiences offered to university students amongst local universities and affiliated organisations. Lt Col Helsby highlighted: “There is much we have in common focusing on the welfare, wellness and development of our Officer Cadets.”

Not least of these great experiences is CUOTC’s annual deployment exercise. This summer, OCdts and Staff voyaged to the Otterburn training area in Northumberland for Adventure Training. They’ve also been to Chamonix for a multi-activity package, to Scotland for kayaking, to Sweden for trekking, and to the Dolomites and Czech Republic for climbing. The unit have published a journal detailing their recent adventures. In addition, the CUOTC shooting team won the University Challenge Cup at Bisley with five OCdts getting inside the top 50 shots in the Army Reserve.  

Army Reserves staff and Officer Cadets at CUOTC supported Army Engagement in East Anglia this year by offering leadership training events to local businesses, drawing on the local employer contacts of the RFCA’s employer engagement team. The same CUOTC team that ran this event also ran a similar day for local school children. Engagement activities such as these offer the added benefit of providing great event planning and leadership opportunities for the Officer Cadets.

The UOTC delivers a broad syllabus of military training, leadership, adventure training, sport and personal development opportunities to its student Officer Cadets, whilst providing an insight into the role, ethos and opportunities of the British Army. There is no commitment to join after university yet every year, about a third of Regular Army Officers commissioning into the British Army are former members of a UOTC, rising to 60% of new Army Reserve Officers. There are nineteen UOTCs which serve 150 Higher Education establishments across the United Kingdom. There are approximately 2,800 Officer Cadets. Officer Cadets are paid for the training they undertake and, subject to attending an annual camp, receive an annual incremental bounty. CUOTC recruits in July, then September and into October from UEA, Cambridge, Essex and Anglia Ruskin University. Their training is based out of the RFCA’s Norwich and Cambridge Army Reserve Centres. Our Estates department provides all essential maintenance and repairs to the Army Reserve Centres on behalf of the Minister of State.

Lt Col Matt Helsby commissioned into the Light Infantry in 2002 and has since held a number of posts, including platoon commander, company commander, combat-news producer, instructor at Catterick, and recently SO1 Force Development in 77th Brigade HQ, developing Information Operations and influence capabilities with a focus on digital activities. His deployments have taken him to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Estonia, and Lebanon.

To find out more about CUOTC’s current activities, follow them on Facebook.

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