This year’s Annual Review of the CCF was special for many reasons, not least as it was our 60th event of this nature. For the first time we welcomed an inspecting officer from outside the UK Armed Forces – Lieutenant Colonel Frank Gasca of the United States Army, a highly-decorated and experienced officer currently serving in the US Embassy.
The turn-out and drill of the cadets was amongst the best seen in recent years, testimony to the hard work and practice put in by the cadets, and they displayed a great sense of occasion and self-discipline on the day amidst unseasonably cold conditions. These high standards reflect the huge amount of commitment and energy injected by this year’s Regimental Sergeant Major, George Counsell. As well as being an impressive leader, George also has the unique attribute of being one of a pair of RSMs from the same family, Brother Will having commanded the contingent two years ago.
Another first this year was the inclusion of female cadets from Loughborough High School and Our Lady’s Convent School, in the Field Gun Competition, a very ‘Loughborough’ tradition inspired by the Royal Tournament and a great test of teamwork. It was won this year in thrilling style by the Army section, enabling team captain Company Sergeant Major Milo Abraham to secure a record fourth victory in a row, his second as team captain.
As ever, a highlight of the day was the quality of the music. The LES Symphonic Wind Band were superb despite the wet conditions, and the Corps of Drums moves from strength to strength as one of the most impressive CCF bands in the country, bringing together students of all ages from across the Loughborough Endowed Schools community.
The climax of the morning, and another new feature on the programme, was the tri-Service military display. Regular officers amongst the audience commented on the slick drills of this ambitious blank-firing demonstration, which simulated a section attack and subsequent casualty evacuation under fire, culminating in a final showdown involving Mr ‘Double-O’ Dowsett! The display involved cadets from all three Services, and special mention must go to the infantry skills of the newly-formed Patrols Platoon, who are the elite of the Army section and have put in that extra effort over the past year which is vital to a thriving contingent.
The Annual Review by its very nature is an ostentatious affair, and it is easy to forget the huge amount of unseen planning and practice that goes on behind the scenes. Our thanks go to all the students and staff involved, especially Mr Moseley and Mr Geary for supporting the musicians, Mr Lightfoot and Wing Commander Sergeant (who also came out of retirement to compere) for a huge effort to ensure that the Field Gun Competition can continue, and of course to Captain Moffett and Sergeant Hall for bringing the whole day together.