Hertfordshire volunteers receive special recognition

The Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss CBE CStJ, awarded Certificates of Meritorious Service to adult volunteers from the Cadet Forces and the Reserve Forces. 

The Lord-Lieutenant said: “It was a great pleasure to present a number of Lord-Lieutenant’s Certificates of Meritorious Service to seven worthy recipients and particularly in the presence of Colonel Ray Wilkinson. The nominating process for these awards is quite onerous and the winners represent the crème of the three branches of the military albeit at different levels. On hearing the citations for each of the seven, I was immensely impressed with the service they have given and continue to give their units and the wider military community. I hope that next year I will have the opportunity to congratulate the worthy winners face to face and to shake them all by the hand.”


SSI James Gray with his Meritorious Service certificateStaff Sergeant James Gray – Army Cadets

James Gray is a sports instructor for the disabled who joined the Army Cadets as an instructor in 2013. He has attended every annual camp since he joined, as well as Silver DofE expeditions, and he now leads the Hatfield Amy Cadets. He has also earned qualifications as a powerboat instructor, dinghy instructor, paddle-boarding, leadership skills, first aid at work and archery, to name a few. 

James has organised numerous Adventure Training weekends for the cadets and staff over the years, as well as encouraging adults and cadets to take on BTEC qualifications. During the pandemic, James adapted. He used his IT knowledge to assist his fellow Detachment Commanders to host Google classrooms every week, as well as weekly ‘keeping in touch’ video calls for Detachment Commanders to catch up with their staff and cadets.

His willingness to step out of his comfort zone and lead his peers towards new ways of working has kept cadets and adults engaged and active throughout. He has done all this whilst working long hours in his own employment.


Mike Freeman with Meritorious Service Certificate from the Lord LieutenantSMI Mike Freeman 

Mike Freeman joined the Army Cadets’ Harpenden detachment as an adult volunteer in 2009. He consistently offered outstanding training to the cadets over the years, ensuring that they had opportunities to develop as individuals, and worked collaboratively with the local community.

As well as volunteering as a cadet instructor, SMI Freeman has undertaken his own training, has achieved the rank of SMI and taken on the role of Detachment Commander of the Leavesden Green Army Cadets. His participation within the Army Cadets goes even further; he attends the Annual Camp each year, acts as sports representative, trains the shooting team and helps cadets train for the Combat Cadet competition.

What’s more, Mike took on the role of Cadet Administrative Assistant for the RFCA, responsible for managing resources for a group of Army Cadet detachments.


SSI Lauren Freeman

Lauren Freeman is a Teaching Assistant and the Detachment Commander of the St Albans Army Cadets. When face to face training ceased, Lauren set up a virtual learning environment for cadets at her detachment and neighbouring detachments, using Google Classrooms and Zoom.

Lauren committed many hours to deliver this learning environment, which tailors the training programme to cadets’ Army Proficiency Certificate (APC) Star level, where they can continue their training remotely, complete interactive tasks and receive feedback.

Lauren is also the Duke of Edinburgh Award representative for her local group of Army Cadet detachments. She continued to support cadets through their DofE tasks, helping them adapt their choices given the restrictions of the pandemic.


Lt Cdr Simon Cook with his Meritorious Service CertificateLt Cdr Simon Cook – Royal Navy Maritime Reserve

Simon is a Consultant in Healthcare and Unit Training Officer for HMS Wildfire at Northwood. He has led the HMS Wildfire training team throughout this period with great positivity and energy, he has empowered his team and he has ensured an engaging virtual experience for all HMS Wildfire reservists. 

Simon applied his civilian skills and knowledge to develop a virtual training programme within a fortnight of lock-down. Simon and his team shared their expertise in the virtual space with their training colleagues across the Maritime Reserve, helping other units to exploit the virtual environment. 

His engaging and relevant training programme yielded a 50% increase in attendance on training evenings. What’s more, the implementation of virtual training nights has allowed reservists deployed overseas to re-engage with the Unit.


Andy Smith with his Meritorious Service CertificateColour Sergeant Andrew Smith – Sea Cadet Corps

Colour Sergeant Andrew Smith’s has been the Officer in Charge of Stevenage Sea Cadet Unit for four years, where he commands forty Sea Cadets, Royal Marine Cadets and Junior Cadets together with supporting Uniformed and Civilian Staff.

Andrew displays solid leadership and is a role model for the young people under his command. The Stevenage Unit has experienced continued growth, and achieved efficiency awards placing them in the top 25% of Sea Cadet units in the Eastern Area.

Andrew joined the Sea Cadet Corps in 2005 as a Sea Cadet instructor and four years ago, he transferred to the Royal Marine Cadets. Under his leadership, his unit established and manned a new Royal Marine Cadets detachment, were one of the first units to plan and execute virtual training, were the first Unit in the county to become COVID secure and the first unit in the county to resume face to face training.  In addition, his unit was the first to gain confirmation that they were COVID secure for field craft and to host an exercise for the district.


NAthan Eyre with his Meritorious Service CertificateWO Nathan Eyre – Air Cadets

Nathan is a nurse and an adult volunteer in the Air Cadets since 2012, after having been an Air Cadet himself. As Wing Warrant Officer at RAF Halton, Nathan leads the wing’s SNCO Cadre and is the advisor to the Wing Commander on Drill and Ceremonial matters.

Nathan has always had an excellent level of attendance and involvement in everything the squadron did, and his particular passion was drill, so he took on training to join the directing staff of the RAFAC National Drill & Ceremonial camp, which he has attended on three occasions to date.

In addition to his primary commitments, WO Eyre is an instructor with the Wing First Aid team, and also a member of the Region Small Arms Training Team, where he is training to be an instructor. He is an exemplary role model to both staff and cadets.


sam cootes with his meritorious service certificateStaff Sergeant Sam Cootes – Army Cadets

Sam joined the Army Cadets as an instructor in 2014 and leads the Royston Army Cadets detachment. His drive passion and commitment even during lockdown have kept adults and cadets engaged. 

The Detachment Commander role is already time-consuming, but is also the Public Relations Representative for his and eight other cadet detachments. He set up Instagram, Google Classrooms, twitter accounts, as well as refreshing various Facebook groups. This kept cadets up to date with virtual training, quizzes, talent competitions, lockdown challenges and a virtual two week Annual Camp. His efforts also bred strong participation in the Big Sleep Out and Walking for Wounded Charity fundraising.



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