A talented musician from Islandmagee and a Ballyclare teenager have been honoured at a formal ceremony at Hillsborough Castle.
Colour Sergeant Karl Bennett, Principal Oboist and Head of Woodwind Section with the North Irish Territorial Band, received 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.
At the same ceremony 16-year-old Catherine Hill from Ballynure, a student at Ballyclare Secondary School, was appointed to the role of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Antrim.
The Citation which accompanies Colour Sergeant Karl Bennett’s award pays tribute to his dedication as well as his musicality and highlights 30 years of service during which the highly accomplished and much respected woodwind player rarely missed either a rehearsal or performance.
Colour Sergeant Bennett was praised as the driving force behind the establishment of the band’s highly successful folk group, ‘Caubeen’, and for helping to arrange and rehearse music for many high-profile engagements, including a performance for HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Other events have included concerts at The Royal Military School of Music at Knellner Hall, the Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall in Belfast, the Royal British Legion National Conference in London, the British Embassy in Washington and at the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo in Canada.
Colour Sergeant Bennett has proved eager and determined to give his active support to a number of military charities, notably The Army Benevolent Fund. His community spirit also extends into his private life, and he has raised substantial funds for good causes including Hope House respite centre in Whitehead and a local appeal to purchase a bespoke wheelchair for a schoolboy. He is also well known in East Antrim for his role as accompanist for Whitehead Ladies’ Choir.
Praising his ‘loyal and diligent service’, the Citation says: “Colour Sergeant Bennett has shown selfless commitment over a long period of time...he is a musician of the highest quality who is respected by all who know him, both in his military and civilian life’.
Catherine Hill from Ballynure, a student at Ballyclare Secondary School, was appointed to the role of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Antrim.
Catherine who is a high-flying member of the Larne Squadron Air Training Corps, will be one of 11 Lord Lieutenants’ Cadets taking on a year-long role which is largely ceremonial. She can expect a busy year ahead, attending Mrs Joan Christie, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Antrim, on major civic occasions. In recognition of the award, Catherine will wear a special insignia on her uniform throughout his year in office.
In the Citation which accompanies Catherine’s award, she is praised for exemplary turnout and bearing and for outstanding commitment to her Cadet Squadron. In the four years since she became a Cadet she has attended Summer Training Camps at RAF Henlow, RAF Wittering and MOD Boscombe Down as well as taking part in significant events at USAF Ramstein Air Base in Germany and the Royal International Air Tattoo. Catherine has also attended all the Battle of Britain and Remembrance Sunday events over the past four years and was commended for taking time and pride in talking to, and learning from, the Veterans who were honoured at those ceremonies.
The Citation adds: “Cadet Sergeant Hill always leads the way for her fellow Cadets when it comes to interfacing with the public, whether it is at formal events such as the Air Training Corps 75th anniversary, RAF 100 anniversary parades, Armed Forces Day, Bentra Airship Station Memorial unveiling or public recruitment...to mention a few!”
Catherine’s lead role driving the Squadron’s Charity Team is highlighted, as is her commitment to mentoring Junior Cadets, putting them at ease when they first join the Squadron and helping them with their ongoing training programme.
Her Award Citation also recognises a sheaf of Cadet achievements including successfully completing her own training in subjects as diverse as Swimming, Radio Operation, HeartStart (defibrillator use), Risk Assessment and St John Ambulance First Aid.