Matthew Holland, Guernsey’s Cadet of the Year, has just returned from attending two significant national events in London. Matthew was invited to represent St John at the Buckingham Palace garden party to celebrate the 70th birthday of HRH Prince of Wales. A week later he attended the service of remembrance to mark the centenary of the destruction of the St John Ambulance Brigade hospital in Etaples in France.

The invitation to Buckingham Palace came via the St John national headquarters. Matthew was one of eight St John Cadets chosen to represent the organisation as part of a group called Youth United, which was also made up of young people from the Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, Scouts and Girl Guides.

As well as being part of the celebrations the cadets also had important roles assisting with the smooth running of the event. Matthew was responsible for looking after wheelchair users and helping other guests with access issues. There was also time to socialize with other young people and some of the invited guests. “After Prince Harry made his speech about Prince Charles we went to our allocated Tea Tent, ours was right next to the Royal Tea Tent” said Matthew. “It was really cool. I couldn’t quite believe I was in the back garden of Buckingham Palace” he added. “The atmosphere great, it was both exciting but formal. The grounds were very impressive and everything looked elegant”. Matthew says he was made to feel very special. “There was plenty of food, oeuvres and canapés. No matter how many I ate they kept coming”.

Matthew also got to speak to the Duchess of Cornwall. “I had a quick chat with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall” he explained. “She approached me in the guard of honour as she left Buckingham Palace. She came over and asked me about the day and whether I was enjoying it. She was very nice.”

During the trip to London Matthew also visited the national St John HQ, where he attended a meeting to discuss the future of the cadet programme and possible changes which are being considered.

“They are looking at revamping some of the youth programmes by 2020” said Matthew. “I was pleased to be able to contribute some ideas.”

A week later Matthew was back in London for another important occasion. The Guernsey Cadet of the Year attended a memorial event at the St John Church in London to mark the centenary of the destruction of the St John Ambulance Brigade hospital in Etaples in northern France during the First World War.

Matthew, who is not only the Guernsey Cadet of the Year, but also the Commandery Cadet of the Year for the offshore islands, was invited along with other the regional cadets. He was part of the guard of honour which lined up on the steps of the church to welcome the VIP guests. The service was led by the Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling and attended by the Grand Prior of St John, HRH Duke of Gloucester and the Prior, Surgeon Rear Admiral Lionel Jarvis.

“It was a more sombre event” said Matthew. “It is important to remember and I was honoured to be invited. Representing both Guernsey and the wider Commandery was a great responsibility.”

On returning to Guernsey Matthew was one of the young people invited to Government House by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Official Birthday.

Matthew was chosen as Guernsey’s Cadet of the Year at the end of 2017 and subsequently become appointed Commandery Cadet of the Year for the Offshore Islands, following a selection process at the start of the 2018. The teenager has been a member of St John since he was eight, when he joined Badgers, but his connection with St John in Guernsey goes back much further. Matthew’s grandfather was Mick Peters who was a well-known and respected ambulance officer with St John and his grandmother was a leader in the nursing division of St John. Matthew says he is proud of the family link and is aware of some of the things his grandfather did. Mathew is currently studying for his A-Levels and is looking forward to getting involved with helping provide first aid cover at events around Guernsey this summer.

Posted: June 17, 2018