Army cadets have done it again

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CPL William Brown, left, SGT Ashleigh Clarke, CPL Wessel Blignault, 2LT Kristen Harris, NZRSA president Sir Wayne (Buck) Shelford with NZRSA Cadet Forces community services trophy.
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The Ashburton Cadet Unit (ACU) are the proud holders of the Royal New Zealand Returned Service Association (RNZRSA) Cadet Forces (CF) Community Services Award Trophy and Unit Commander Major Cezarne Rodgers said ‘‘we will enter it again in the hopes of being the first group to win it three times.’’

The trophy is competed for annually between Army Cadet Units, Air Training Corps and Sea Cadet Units from around New Zealand.

The Ashburton unit is one of three, ‘‘all army, to have won it twice in is 22-year history; the last time being in 2017,’’ Cezarne said.

The trophy is awarded to the NZCF unit judged to have carried out the most worthy community service or project in the preceding year.

The criteria for consideration is high, including the requirement that over 50 percent of the units enrolled strength must be involved, that the project/ activity must be intended to be continued in future years, and that the project/activity must be undertaken without remuneration.

The Ashburton Cadet Unit’s (ACU) Second Lieutenant Kristen Harris, recently received the NZRSA Cadet Forces Community Service Trophy from RNZRSA president Sir Wayne (Buck) Shelford.

She was joined at the presentation by fellow ACU members Sergeant Ashleigh Clarke and Corporal’s Wessel Blignault and William Brown.

The unit’s award was for their community service in 2021 and should have been presented last year. It’s the second time the unit has won the honour.

Ashburton RSA President Merv Brenton and 2nd lieutenant Kristen Harris with the NZRSA Cadet Forces Community Service Trophy.

The first time was in 2017 for cleaning war memorials prior to ANZAC day in small and rural locations throughout Mid Canterbury.

In 2022 they undertook several projects both related to the Defence Force and the community.

‘‘We assisted community organisations such as collecting for the Ashburton Silver Band while they did their Christmas caroling,’’ Kristen said.

Band members were pleased when the unit rang to see if they were needed for the caroling, as some of the other groups who normally assisted were unable to that year due to covid.

Though it was short notice and ‘‘we were aware of the covid situation we made it work, with bags on long polls for the purpose of collecting,’’ Unit Commander Major Cezarne Rodgers said.

It was important for the ACU to support the band with the collection ‘‘as this was the only fundraising the band had been able to do for the year.’’

As well as the collecting they participated in the RSA’s annual Poppy Day appeal only getting approval to do this at the last minute due to covid.

They have continued to do the yearly cleaning of local war memorials.

Despite lockdown and covid the ACU were still able to assist with ANZAC Day and Armistice Day something not all units were able to do.

‘‘We had a plan in place so depending on what decision were made we were going to be able to support these important days and the work of the Ashburton Returned Services Association,’’ Cezarne said.

The ACU application for the award was supported by the RSA.

Ashburton RSA president Merv Brenton said ‘‘we are proud as punch at them getting the award. We are thankful for their support with Poppy Day, ANZAC Day, Armistice Day. We enjoy supporting their end of year parades as a way of acknowledging what they do to support us. After all they are the future of the RSA and cadets gives you good work ethics.’’

The ACU were encouraged to apply for the trophy and so they entered and now the trophy sits among the many awards they have received.

The trophy consists of a wooden base with brass shields engraved with the names of the winning Units. On top of the base sits a black flecked obelisk, symbolic of many war memorials around New Zealand.