Newtown Army Cadet Force has been nominated for a national award for changing the lives of young people in the town and surrounding communities.

The military youth organisation, which has had a long presence in Newtown helping more than 300 young people, will find out later this month whether it has won an Armed Forces Community Award at a glittering ceremony in London.

Detachment Commander Captain Rachael Jones-Morris, who also works as an NHS nurse in Llanidloes, said: "I’m over the moon. It was all a bit overwhelming; we were taken a bit aback."

Twice a week at its base near Latham Park, Newtown Army Cadet Force volunteers offer "the cheapest activity you will do for £1" for more than 40 teens aged between 12 and 18 the opportunity to gain confidence to learn new skills, compete in national sport competitions, take part in a heavily subsidised Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, and travel abroad.


Such is the success of Newtown Army Cadets that there is a waiting list to join them on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6.30pm to 9.15pm, but vacancies will be open later this year, and a need for adults to volunteer their time to allow the group to take on more young people.

Rachael said: "I don’t want to turn them away because you don’t know what they’re coming away from and we might be their only safety.

"We might be their only positivity. Or the only person who is there to listen to them and not judge. If I say there’s no room, what impact will that make?"

Rachael proudly explains the cadets' successes over the past year including the Wales junior girls rugby team who were predominantly from Newtown and won a national competition for the first time in the team’s history.

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Nine teenagers from Newtown joined cadets from across Wales on a 21-day trip in South Africa this summer after raising £20,000 including £1,600 from generous donations by shoppers at Morrisons in January.

Rachael said: "We want to say thank you to the community because that is mega money, and it built the kids’ confidence up because they had to go up to complete strangers in uniform and talk about why they’re fundraising.

"It’s a conservation project, a confidence builder and cultural awareness for the kids for them to realise that Newtown is not the be end and end all because unfortunately there’s a lot of drugs and crime within the area, but they don’t have to choose that path. There are different paths and do other things. That’s one of the things that we’re trying to do with the kids: to open their eyes and minds to others.

"Some kids haven’t been out of Wales let alone anywhere else. There are loads of opportunities for the kids, it’s just actually getting them through the door and engaging them in the first place. It is quite disciplined and uniform orientated, there are standards and values and unfortunately some kids don’t have that anymore.

"Cadets bring stability and structure. We never close, we’re open all year round. There’s consistency for kids who need somewhere to go."

Newtown Army Cadet Force would also like to thank EvaBuild, Control Techniques, River Lewis Landscapes, Hilltop Honey, Powys Gas, Montgomeryshire Sports Council and Squash Club, Newtown Tennis Club; Community JustGiving page, Blakemore Foundation, Spar, The Waggon and Horses and Community Foundation Wales for their kind support.