Tuesday, February 28th, 2017.

Staff Sgt Brandon Winkworth with the Excelsior detachment.

Attention! Newly-promoted Staff Sergeant Brandon Winkworth reporting for duty.

The dedicated 16-year-old pupil is making rapid progress through the ranks of the Northumbria Army Cadet Force – now promoted to Staff Sergeant of Y Company, one of only two cadets operating at that lofty rank.

Brandon is in charge of 120 young cadets in the company – just four years after joining the force.

“You have to be in the cadets for quite a while, complete all the training and be highly motivated and organised to become a staff sergeant,” said Brandon.

“You have to complete four star training on the Army Proficiency Syllabus to show you are proficient – and pass other tests such as military knowledge, physical tests, skill at arms and fieldcraft. When you get to three star you choose to specialise and I chose drill and field craft to achieve my four star.

“I felt elated to get promoted. I haven’t quite decided what I want to do in future but I’m thinking about the Army.

“The cadets’ means I get to interact with other people, it keeps you focused and off the streets, it’s good for teamwork and making friendships.

“The next rank to go for would be CSM (Company Sergeant Major), which would be in charge of the whole company, taking parades  on camp – I can already shout which is good but I get people to do it for me at the moment.”
Brandon’s sister Zoe, 13, is also in the Excelsior detachment. “I get to order her about in the company but not at home,” added Brandon.

Sergeant Carville said: “Brandon has done exceptionally well, working his way up through the ranks, going away on loads of training courses and weekends, passing a lot of qualifications.

“He’s just passed another senior NCO course to get his promotion to staff sergeant and it’s a really massive achievement.

“Basically, there are only two staff sergeants in the company, and Brandon is one of them.

“He could if he decided to go into the Army get an excellent reference from this – he’d make a cracking soldier.

“He’s a very bright lad, if he went into one of the technical trades such as the engineers or Signals he’d do very well.

“The school detachment has been open at Excelsior for five years – we’ve got about 20 pupils on our books at present.

“We parade two nights a week straight after school. We do everything from shooting at Fenham Barracks, expeditions, field craft where we are in camouflage, weapons training – basically everything they do in the Army.”