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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



29 October 2017

A major new £750,000 resource for local young people has formally opened its doors in Ballynahinch.

Harmony Hall, an all-new Combined Cadet Centre, will be home to teenage members of the Ballynahinch Detachment Army Cadet Force and 2004 (Ballynahinch) Squadron Royal Air Force Air Cadets.  

The bright new purpose-built facility in the centre of the town includes a large assembly hall, classrooms, lecture theatres, offices, restrooms and stores and has been specifically designed to achieve high sustainability accreditation.  

The opportunities for young people in and around Ballynahinch will be considerably expanded as a result of this latest build project, co-ordinated and project-managed by the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association Northern Ireland. Colonel Johnny Rollins, Chief Executive of the organisation, believes it will not only give current Cadets more scope, it will also provide a springboard for expansion.  

He says, “Over the years, Ballynahinch Cadets have chalked up an enviable string of achievements, despite not having their own, dedicated facility – quite simply, nothing held them back!   We are delighted now to provide them with the premises they so richly deserve and we look forward to being able to increase the span of activities and challenges, as we make best use of this great new set up.

“This new building is an investment in success and it will provide the much-needed space for the two units based in Ballynahinch to expand, allowing us to bring the benefits of Cadet membership to even more young people. Cadet membership is growing fast in popularity as teenagers, and their parents, become ever more aware of the opportunities it holds for personal development, achievement – and sheer good fun!  We are thrilled that now we are in a position to offer the Cadet experience to still more young people.”

Sergeant Major Instructor Morris Barron, Detachment Commander of Ballynahinch Detachment Army Cadet Force, adds, “There are benefits for the whole family, too.  Providing the sort of opportunities which come as standard for Cadets would stretch most family budgets but, with us, activities are free or very low in cost.  Even the annual camp experience which is a high point of the Cadet year won’t put too much pressure on the Bank of Mum & Dad!

“Still more important, parents know that we’ll work to bring out the best in their kids, and that every adventurous activity the Cadets undertake is done with the benefit of expert tuition and under professional, and always encouraging, supervision.   This is the perfect way to prise your teenage boys and girls away from technology, replacing virtual lives dominated by mobiles and computers with active, healthy real-life adventure and new friendships.

”Flight Lieutenant Fred Ruddell, Commanding Officer of 2004 Squadron RAF Air Cadets, says, “We’re all about giving young people opportunities to learn and develop through challenge, sport and outdoor activities, all provided within a supportive and friendly environment.

“While they are having fun and forging new friendships, they are generating skills and nationally recognised qualifications which will stand them in good stead as they draft their Personal Statements to apply for college or university or take their first steps into the world of work.”

Officiating at the ceremony to mark the opening, Mr David Lindsay, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Down, paid tribute to the Air and Army Cadet units which have so long been a force for good in Ballynahinch.  The Army Cadet Force has been based in the town for over 30 years, with 2004 (Ballynahinch) Squadron RAF Air Cadets opening its doors in 2004, although a detached flight from Lisburn Squadron had been running in Ballynahinch since 1994.

Colonel Lindsay spoke warmly of the positive impact which the Cadet movement has made on many young people’s lives over the decades and publicly thanked the hugely committed adult volunteers who have devoted their time, expertise and energies to help local teenagers succeed.

Recruiting for new Cadets is already under way, with ‘newbies’ invited to choose between the RAF Air Cadets which meet on Tuesday evenings from 7-9.45pm and the Army Cadet Force which meets on Thursdays from 7.30-10pm. 
Both the Army Cadet Force and the RAF Air Cadets are also seeking to recruit new Adult Instructors.  Colonel Rollins says, “We’re looking for men and women to join the fantastic team of Adult Instructors who already work in Ballynahinch. We’re open-minded about applicants’ age and you certainly don’t have to be super fit.   Neither do you need to be a fully qualified youth worker or teacher: you just have to be passionate about inspiring and working with young people and we’ll provide all the necessary training and support to help you become an Adult Instructor.   This is the perfect way for adults to put something back into their community and we can promise them that they’ll get fitter and have some great fun in the process.”