UTC Reading was recognised for going the extra nautical mile for its students with a big win at the recent Royal County of Berkshire Awards.
The school was awarded Best Cadet Experience Award from the The Ulysses Trust in recognition of its CCF (Combined Cadet Force) at the event, which took place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on Thursday 28 September.
The evening was a celebration to recognise the amazing work of volunteers, military reservists and cadets (Combined Cadet Force, Sea Cadets, Army Cadet and Air Cadets).
Each year The Ulysses Trust nominates a unit for the accolade of ‘The Best Cadet Expedition’. The latest awards were selected from the 95 cadet and reservist expeditions supported by The Ulysses Trust in 2022. This year UTC Reading was selected in recognition of a taxing sailing challenge, where ten students and two teachers completed the Round The Island yacht race around the Isle of Wight.
This expedition stood out for the Ulysses Trust for its many months of organising and training, including a training week in March and an additional day in May in Brighton.
The training week in March saw the students undergo learning new skills and demonstrating their physical robustness in sub-zero temperatures, being thrashed by wind and snow. One cadet summed the challenge up by saying it was ‘scary but thrilling at the same time’.
The skills learnt weren’t all nautical as students were encouraged to plan meals and go shopping for the food they would need for the sail. The students were further tested, working 12-hour days with skills that were still new to them, demonstrating resilience and teamwork to achieve an impressive result of 634th out of 1156 boats.
Importantly, the impression that this expedition has made on the cadets will stay with them forever, with one student, Rio Wilmott, saying: “The whole experience was once in a lifetime, and I can’t wait to buy my own boat and get back out there. I hope we can continue this next year.”
Neil Pouney, former Vice Principal at UTC Reading and now Head of School for UTC Swindon, also part of the Activate Learning Education Trust, was responsible for setting up the CCF at the school and was there to pick up the award.
“I’m very proud to be picking up this award,” he said. “We knew when we entered this sailing challenge that the students would rise to the task admirably, but to see how they grew in confidence and how much fun they had learning the ropes was great to witness and ultimately is what we as teachers want to see. To have the expedition recognised by the Ulysses Trust as Best Cadet Experience is amazing, especially as it was up against some other fantastic projects. We’re very proud and happy!”