Angry parents fear for the future of Army Cadet Force unit in Clipstone

Fears for the future of a long-standing youth organisation in Clipstone have arisen amid plans to close down its headquarters.

By Richard Silverwood
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 3:33 pm

The village’s detachment of the Army Cadet Force (ACF), which dates back 70 years, has been told that the hut it occupies on Mansfield Road will shut by September.

And its dozen or so members must move to a new ACF base on Bath Street, Mansfield, which is to undergo a £34,000 refurbishment.

However, angry parents have launched a campaign to stop the move, claiming members will not travel to Mansfield, leading to the inevitable disbandment of the Clipstone unit.

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Members of the Army Cadet Force detachment in Clipstone on parade.

Dad Danny Lonsdale, whose 14-year-old daughter Gabriella is a member of Clipstone ACF, said: “They are trying to shut the detachment down.

"I am a lorry driver who works away, and my wife doesn’t drive, so Gabriella wouldn’t be able to get to and from Mansfield safely.

"It is just another example of them trying to pull something good out of Clipstone.”

Over the years, hundreds of youngsters have passed through the hands of Clipstone AFC, which meets every Monday and Thursday evening.

The hut on Mansfield Road, Clipstone, which is the headquarters of the Army Cadet Force detachment.

The detachment focuses on personal and physical development, through a range of activities, challenges and camps.

"The youngsters also learn life skills and make lots of friends,” said Danny, who was a member himself for 14 years, maturing from cadet to adult instructor.

"But for the cadets, I think I’d be dead or a drug dealer now,” he said. “I was a proper pain as a kid. The ACF put me on the straight and narrow.”

Leading the parents’ campaign is Catrina Sims, whose daughter is a lance-corporal in the Clipstone unit.

Catrina said: “It provides young people with somewhere to go.

"It gives them a sense of belonging and teaches them respect. Saving something that keeps young people out of trouble is worth fighting for.”

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Although the hut is old, Danny insists it is in good condition. The parents are hoping to source funding to improve it or find another building within Clipstone that is suitable.

They have won support from Coun Michael Brown, who represents the village at Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Coun Brown vowed: “I will do everything I can to ensure that Clipstone continues to have its own detachment, especially with the benefits it has, building skills for the future.

"It is vital we continue to offer services for our youth. I have spoken to MP Mark Spencer to raise my concerns.”

Clipstone is one of 26 ACF detachments across the county. The closure bombshell was first dropped in a letter from Major Richard Etherington, the county’s commanding officer.

He insisted “the detachment itself is not being disbanded” but confirmed it was expected to relocate “outside the confines of Clipstone”.

The ACF’s umbrella organisation, the East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, has explained the decision is part of a review of all its sites.

Martin Capewell, the association’s head of estates, said: “Over the next ten years, we will adapt and streamline our estate to ensure we have the right buildings in place to meet the needs of cadets and reserves.

"This means some sites could close, while others could be redeveloped or extended so they can accommodate more than one unit.

"In this case, the Mansfield building will be modernised.”