On Thursday 27 September 2012 Cheltenham College will be hosting a visit from His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the College Combined Cadet Force (CCF). The visit will also be a fitting reminder of over 6000 Old Cheltonians who have served their country since the school was founded in 1841. Partaking in the anniversary event alongside HRH will be VIPs Dame Janet Trotter, HM Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, Mr Duncan Clegg, the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, Mr Colin Hay, Mayor of Cheltenham and Mr Tony Hicks, Chairman of Gloucestershire County Council. Prominent former pupils of the school will also be present, including General Sir Michael Rose and Sir Edmund Burton.
The programme on Thursday 27 September will commence with the arrival of HRH and his inspection of the College’s Royal Colours, guarded by College cadets. At 11.00am the 150th CCF Anniversary Service will take place in the College Chapel, with the Bishop of Rochester and Old Cheltonian, The Right Rev James Langstaff, dedicating a specially commissioned Memorial. Following this event, the Memorial will then be moved to a permanent location at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire where it will be the first Memorial ever placed by a school*.
Once the 150th CCF Anniversary Service is over, the continued programme of events will showcase the rich heritage of the College Combined Cadet Force, with pupils participating in stands and activities representing each of the three services; the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. These include gun runs, the College assault course, command tasks and field-craft stands. Student sea kayakists, cyclists and hikers who have successfully completed The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Award will also be on parade as a mark of respect to HRH who is a Trustee of the Award, as will the Junior School Scout Troop. The entire Junior School will line the drive while HRH and all accompanying VIPs complete their tour, with the College Wind Band performing to mark the occasion.
At 13.25, following the unveiling of a plaque and lunch with staff, pupils VIPs and prominent Old Cheltonians, there will be an official Contingent Photograph. Throughout the event, HRH, as Royal Colonel, 2nd Batallion, The Rifles, will be dressed in Rifles uniform which also represents College’s affiliation to the Rifles Regiment. The visit will conclude after lunch.
The first of the public schools in the Victorian era, Cheltenham College was founded with a Military and a Classical side. Former pupils have been awarded a remarkable 14 Victoria Crosses as well as many other gallantry medals, including a Military Cross for bravery in the Iraq campaign. Over 1500 Old Cheltonians have lost their lives in service, including 55 in the Boer war, 675 in WW1 and 363 in WW2. This history of distinguished military service is recognised by the right to hold and parade Royal Colours; an honour which has only ever been given to two non-military schools: Cheltenham College and Eton College. The Princess Royal last presented Cheltenham College’s Royal Colours in 2000.
This visit by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO celebrates both this service history and the 150-year history of the College CCF, founded in 1862 with Volunteer Rifle Corps. To this day, every pupil joining College at 13+ takes part in CCF, developing the kind of discipline, self-reliance and leadership skills that are of utmost importance in all modern career paths. Each section; the Navy, the Army and Air Force, is guided by full time members of the teaching staff who hold commissions in their respective Volunteer Reserves. College is still one of the most prolific providers of officers to the Armed Forces.