From Cadet to Instructor, A Tale of 42 Years VCC Service!

Published on 25/03/2024

In 1981, Lt Col (VCC) Chris Spratt’s parents saw the Portsmouth Division RMVCC Band march down Fratton Road and thought ‘our son should join them’ – to this day, he questions why (as he says he wasn’t that bad as a kid!). After 5 months of recruit training under the watchful eye of Second World War ex Royal Marines sniper Mick Coughlan, Lt Col Spratt passed out, being the fourth best recruit.

Col Spratt joined C Company and was soon propelled into the unit’s Mounted Display, with thoughts of riding a horse at the forthcoming Cadet Tattoo on the parade ground at Eastney Barracks but alas the ‘horses’ turned out to be fur covered wire frames on braces and was to jog around the arena in an intricate display to music.

Progressing through the ranks and as a Cadet Corporal, he joined the Drill Squad, a display of precision rifle drill without orders. Enjoying five years of public displays with them including Navy Days, D-Day 40 and various local shows. Passing the Senior Command Course in 1986 in first place, Col Spratt became the Company Sergeant Major of R Company. The VCC is very much a family affair and by this time Col Spratt’s parents became involved and recently retired!

Having been promoted to Cadet Colour Sergeant, his time as a cadet regrettably came to an end after 6 years in those days cadets had to leave aged 16. Having enjoyed several camps, participated in Cadet Tattoos, getting stuck into various activities and learning a lot of life skills, he was not ready to leave. Thankfully, Col Spratt was one of the only a handful of senior cadet to be invited to stay on as a Junior Instructor. 

Col Spratt has held nearly every position within the VCC, including Company Commander, Training Officer, Chief Instructor, Adjutant and latterly Commander VCC – indeed the very first VCC ex-cadet to go from the very bottom to the top in their unit and entire organisation. Col Spratt said “I have made some great lifelong friendships during my time and shared some truly amazing, indeed ‘hoofing’ experiences. The highlights have been to be parading at Buckingham Palace, participating in the Royal Tournament with our cadet Field Gun, organising more summer camps and weekend exercises than I can remember; paying respects at First World War battlefields and cemeteries around Ypres, meeting Bill Sparks – the last survivor of the Cockleshell Heroes and marching through the City of London in the Lord Mayor’s Show, but above all seeing so many of our young cadet flourish into reliable and dependable adults – our VCC aim”.

After joining Headquarters VCC he has tackled the challenging issues of establishing the VCC as a single service organisation complete with a new headquarters, setting up the VCC Training Centre, establishing a VCC wide cadet training syllabus, organisational expansion, and forming independent charities – all with commitment, energy and passion.

This week, Lt Col Spratt retires from the VCC after 42 years exemplary service to the organisation and during his many years as an adult volunteer and during his tenure as Commander VCC, Lt Col Spratt has seen thousands of young people develop and ‘Meet the Challenge’ of modern life and continues to be an ambassador for volunteering within the RN Cadet Forces. Being able to ‘Make a Difference’ to the young people is very much at the forefront of all VCC Cadet Force Adult Volunteers minds and it is a fundamental part of our future.

The entire Volunteer Cadet Corps wishes Lt Col Spratt well for the future.