Cadets recognise their members for work during the volcanic eruptions
Medal recipients and the top brass of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force, along with Police Commissioner Colin John pose for a group photo (photo by Robertson S. Henry)
March 21, 2023

Cadets recognise their members for work during the volcanic eruptions

Fifty medals were awarded to members of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force (SVGCF) in honour of their hard work providing relief aid during the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano in 2021.

A total of 100 medals were to have been presented at the awards ceremony held on Saturday, March 18 on the premises of the University of the West Indies Open Campus; however, only half of those down to receive awards were in attendance, therefore 50 medals were presented.

Deputy Commandant, Major Idelia Ferdinand who delivered remarks at the ceremony said she was pleased that the cadets were being recognised for their service.

“This is indeed an auspicious occasion for the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cadet Force after 86 years…to be able to present medals to serving members for their hard work and dedication to national service. It is the first time we are able to present service medals and we certainly hope it would not be the last.”

Ferdinand said that in May, 2022 a recognition ceremony was held to reflect on the service of the cadets and the volunteers who worked alongside them during the volcano relief operations in 2021.

“While the plan to present the medals during that ceremony was not realised ,we are elated that we are able to present them at this juncture,” she said.

“Awarding medals and decorations in the military is a mark of honour for heroism, meritorious or outstanding service or achievement. This is reflective of the ethos of the organisation and is evident in the lives of many who dare to join this noble organisation.”

Ferdinand said it must be that the discipline, patriotism, and honour which resonate in the Cadets’ motto propelled former Company Sergeant, Major, Ahshawn Williams to grasp the opportunity to give back to the organisation by funding the 100 medals.

“Having enlisted in the organisation in 1996 and attaining the coveted rank of Company Sergeant Major, he went on to join the British Navy as a Marine Engineer, retired after 15 years and now works in the field of engineering. Former CSM Williams would have been exposed to disaster and mass casualty training as a cadet and understands the determination and rigours of emergency response as a young cadet,” major Ferdinand said.

“Many of us also understand that such sacrifice is often unrecognized and is hardly ever rewarded, but we are never daunted or even disappointed, nor do we opt out of the next call out to respond. We are always ready for another opportunity to serve,” she added.

Having served in the volcano operations the cadets were challenged to create a design for a service medal that best captures their experiences. Many ideas were generated which led to the merging of several designs to create the final product by Warrant Officer 2, Cimalon Hamilton, and Warrant Officer 2, Seon Barnwell.

Explaining the design, Ferdinand said “the medal depicts a laurel wreath with the Cadet Force cap badge embedded at the connection of the two branches. The laurel wreath is commonly used on military badges and signifies victory, success, and achievement. At the centre of the laurel wreath is the outline of St Vincent Island with the erupting volcano at the centre. So the medal is a reflection of the vitality of those who served in the operation and captures the spirit of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the face of the eruption”.

Inscribed around the edges of the medal, are the words, “in recognition of National Service Duty – La Soufriere Relief 2021, SVG Cadet Force. The name of each recipient is uniquely etched on the back of the medal. The medal is attached to a Red and Green Ribbon which has multiple significance. It represents the changing of the alert level from Green to red and back, a move from the Red to the Green Zone for safety and a reverse move. The Green is also an indication of renewed hope and resilience as the nation embark on the road to recovery”.

Among persons attending the ceremony were Governor General, Dame Susan Dougan; Commissioner of Police Colin John; Commandant of the SVGCF Lt Colonel Bertillon Hamilton; past Commandant Lt Col Dwight Lewis; Major St. Clair Leacock, and pastor of the New Testament Church of God at Wilson Hill and District Overseer for the Kingstown District, Bishop Chesley Ferdinand.