As a thirteen year old, Ben never thought he would achieve so much by becoming an Air Cadet, but six years on, Cadet Warrant Officer Ben Gilbert, now 19, has seen off competition from more than 20,000 fellow cadets to be awarded the prestigious Dacre Sword for the Best Male Cadet in the Air Training Corps.
CWO Ben Gilbert (left)
Ben’s all round performance marks him out as an outstanding cadet. He is an enthusiastic, articulate and intelligent young man who shows extraordinary dedication to his squadron. Having joined 378 (Mannock) Squadron, based in Wellingborough, in 2005, Ben soon made sure he took advantage of every opportunity available to him.
Despite a troubled family life when Ben was younger, he found that he was able to channel his energy into learning new skills. The stability and structure provided by the squadron enabled Ben to develop self discipline and even during difficult times in his personal life, he was always happy when taking part in squadron activities and would encourage and motivate the younger cadets.
Ben’s commitment to the squadron was rewarded when he gained places on several prominent training courses including parachuting, paragliding and the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme, all of which he completed successfully with his usual spirit and eagerness.
Ben’s drive to challenge himself was evident by his desire to improve his leadership capabilities by attending two of the Air Training Corps leadership training programmes, one at Frimley Park and the second, the notoriously tough Junior Leaders Course which is run over a three month period. Ben, having become a qualified Junior Leader, now assists less experienced cadets on this very course.
His leadership skills have grown and developed over the past few years and have culminated in Ben being promoted to the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer in 2009. With this he saw his responsibilities on the squadron increase and he is now in charge of the sporting programme at Mannock squadron and he manages the progress of cadets through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.
The latter task is something Ben is particularly keen to pursue having completed the bronze, silver and gold awards himself. His main passion at the squadron is adventure training and as a result of this he was eager to complete the Basic Expedition Leader course so he could take groups of cadets out in the hills around the UK.
Not only is Ben an excellent ambassador for the Air Training Corps in the UK, he has also represented the ATC in the USA whilst taking part in the International Air Cadet Exchange in California and while visiting RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus having been awarded the trip by the Royal Air Force Association.
Ben’s cadet career has also seen him attending the Cadet 150 Parade in London and was highlighted when he took on the role of Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Northamptonshire. This position has seen Ben performing his duties escorting members of the Royal Family when they are on official visits in the county.
As a role model for younger cadets and a clear demonstration of what can be achieved through being an Air Cadet, it would be difficult to find anyone more capable. Ben is always smart, well presented and his articulate manner means he is able to communicate effortlessly with cadets, staff and members of the public alike. He is easily able to express himself and convey information with knowledge, clarity and enthusiasm.
Ben will no doubt go on to achieve more success in his civilian life. His ambition is to complete a law degree and with the drive and determination he has shown to become the best male air cadet in the country, it is highly likely that he will achieve his dreams in the future.
Flying Officer Samantha Broadhurst
Media Communications Officer, 378 (Mannock) Squadron Air Training Corps