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Local people receive their honours at Hillsborough Castle ceremony

A Crumlin man who has given more than 17 years’ service to the Army Cadet Force and two teenage Cadets have been honoured at a formal ceremony at Hillsborough Castle.

Receiving the Lord Lieutenant’s Certificate for Outstanding Meritorious Service Above and Beyond The Call of Duty, one of the highest accolades that can be conferred on members of the Reserve Forces and Cadet movement, was Captain Thomas Dunlop, Officer Commanding Namur Company Senior Cadets and Detachment Commander ACF, Antrim.

The Citation which accompanies his award praises his “excellent leadership, passion and commitment to the ACF’ and highlights the enthusiasm and empathy which underpin all that Captain Dunlop does for the young people and Adult Volunteers under his command, helping them to improve their skills and achieve success not only within the Cadet syllabus, but also in their personal lives.

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“His abilities are amply evidenced by a string of achievements for himself and ‘his’ Cadets, but the Citation pays particular tribute to Captain Dunlop’s work during the recent pandemic. Tom helped ‘keep the flame alive’ by embracing Zoom and establishing wide-ranging online Cadet activities, involving Cadets in virtual celebrations in support of NHS staff and the ‘Salute to Captain Tom’.”

Captain Thomas Dunlop receives award and congratulations from Mr David McCorkell, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim

His award Citation concludes: “Captain Dunlop has achieved much over an extended period, in a variety of roles, and has proved to be an outstanding volunteer who has freely given up his time for the benefit of our Cadets and Adults … and exceptional officer who has much potential for the future, he fully deserves formal recognition.”

At the same ceremony Sophie McCullagh from Hillsborough, an Ordinary Cadet with Training Ship Ulster in Lisburn, was appointed to serve as Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Down for the coming year and Ordinary Cadet Adam Barr from Lisburn who serves alongside Sophie at TS Ulster, was appointed to serve as Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Antrim.

The teenagers will take on a largely ceremonial role, attending their respective Lord Lieutenants on major civic occasions. In recognition of the award each will wear a special insignia on their uniform throughout their year in office.

The Citation which accompanies Sophie’s distinction describes her as “an undoubtedly reliable and impressive Cadet …. a caring and compassionate role model for other Cadets’. It praises the 15-year-old for achievements which include qualifications in Marine Engineering and Powerboating and for sporting prowess which includes selection for the girls’ football team which became Sea Cadet National Champions, pre lockdown.

Teenage Sea Cadet Adam Barr receives his honour from Mr David McCorkell, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim

“During lockdown Sophie seized every opportunity to stay positively engaged with Cadets and, throughout her Cadet career, she has shown a willingness to volunteer and support others.

“Outwith Cadets, Sophie is a keen and accomplished sailor’ she was the Northern Ireland Under 14 Foil Series Champion and has represented Northern Ireland in the Youth Five Nations, as well as qualifying three times for the British Youth Championships and winning a Bronze medal in the Belfast Open Adult Competition.

“Stepping into the role of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Antrim is 16-year-old Adam Barr whose award Citation describes him as ‘a true Sea Cadet … who plays a full part in all activities within his Sea Cadet Training Ship, often in a leadership role.”

Adam is commended for maintaining his enthusiasm throughout lockdown, training virtually and, on return to post pandemic “normality’ displaying maturity and leadership as he helped new recruits to get accustomed to life and opportunity within a Sea Cadet unit.

Pictured at the Hillsborough Castle ceremony Ordinary Cadet Sophie McCullagh receives the Citation to mark her appointment from Mr Gawn Rowan-Hamilton, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for County Down

“Engineering is his particular interest and, having completed Basic Marine Engineering Specialism with the Cadets, Adam is currently undertaking an engineering course at college.

“A talented sportsman and musician, Adam has no shortage of extra-curricular hobbies, but always manages to make time to be an enthusiastic presence within his Cadet unit.”