Newtownards teenager Sophie Ayres has been honoured at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle where she was formally appointed to serve as Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Down.
The high-flying 16-year-old will be amongst just eleven Lord Lieutenants’ Cadets selected to take on a year-long, largely ceremonial, role. She can expect a busy year ahead, attending Colonel David Lindsay, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Down, on major civic occasions. In recognition of the award, Sophie will wear a special insignia on her uniform throughout her year in office.
Strangford College student Cadet Sergeant Sophie Ayres joined the Donaghadee Detachment of the Army Cadets in November 2014. Since then, says her Award Citation, she has proved to be ‘a committed, dedicated and exceptional cadet and a credit to the Detachment and the Battalion. She is intelligent, articulate and her turnout and bearing are always of the highest standard. A most helpful and willing senior Cadet, she is keen to mentor and develop junior Cadets and is always a source of sound advice to many in the Battalion and beyond.’
Extremely conscientious, Sophie is a regular attender at Detachment, Company and Battalion events and, over the last two training years has become an important member of several competition teams, including the Mini Micks Irish Guards Competitions and the G Company Teams for Battalion and Brigade Military Skills competitions. She is looking forward to the opportunity to lead those teams in the upcoming training year.
Sophie recently achieved her 3 Star Army Proficiency Certificate, winning the prestigious ‘Champion 3 Star Cadet Award for Best Cadet’ in 2 (NI) Battalion’s Senior Training Company. She is already working towards 4 Star status and is involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Always ready to learn something new, Sophie recently successfully completed the Cadet Radio User Course and has been involved in major Cadet projects including The Mourne Mountain Adventure and the Local Heroes research challenge.
She recently took part in a tri-service educational trip to Poland and was selected to make a presentation about the Cadet movement to an audience of Polish and UK officials and Cadets gathered at the British Embassy in Warsaw. She was also chosen to be interviewed by the Embassy’s social media team.
Her Award Citation commends Sophie’s thoughtful involvement in many Remembrance events and highlights her presence at the Irish Guards St Patrick’s Day parade in London, where she represented the Army Cadet Force with ease and grace to a number of attending dignitaries.
Sophie is praised for her active involvement with local charities and good causes, in particular acting as the driving force for the Cadet team which fund raised for community defibrillators to be purchased for public places in Donaghadee.
Sophie also donned gardening gloves to help her Detachment to renovate a rehabilitation garden for veterans gifted to the Royal Irish Aftercare Service in Greyabbey and, more recently, was a pivotal part of the small team of senior cadets who created and staged a recruiting event in Newtownards Shopping Centre, raising funds of over £600 for the Army Benevolent Fund Soldiers Charity.
Outside Cadets, the energetic teenager has served on her School Council for five years in a row and is a mentor for junior students. She also enjoys acting and drama, sailing and horse riding and has been selected for the Northern Ireland Youth Choir.
The Award Citation concludes, “Her hard work, determination and her willingness to try new things, combined with her refreshing good nature, are undoubtedly what set her above the rest.
Pic Cadet Sergeant Sophie Ayres is pictured receiving congratulations and the certificate which marks her new role from Colonel David Lindsay, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Down.