From the Wirral to Welbeck – Cadet Sergeant Oliver Quirk’s story

August 7, 2017

Earlier this year Hoylake Detachment received a message from Cadet Sergeant Oliver Quirk. It was very polite, explaining that Oliver couldn’t attend parade night that evening as his parents had thrown him an impromptu party because he had discovered he had got a place at Welbeck, the Defence Sixth Form College.

The Hoylake Detachment staff were delighted by this news and quickly replied to Oliver asking his permission to tell everyone the fantastic news immediately, from the OC to the other cadets. Sergeant Burns was even heard telling the Air Cadet instructor on her way to empty the bins!

Welbeck Defence 6th Form College is a full boarding co-educational college, funded by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It offers an A level education to young people who wish to follow a career as a technical or engineering officer within the Armed Forces or as a civilian within the MOD. There are approximately 185 places available per year and getting a place is no easy feat.

So how does an Army Cadet from the Wirral get a place at the prestigious College and what does it take to be one of the few picked from the thousands of applicants every year? Oliver tells us below in his own words how his cadet career led him to Welbeck:

“Joining the Army Cadets was quite a daunting experience at first. I walked into the unit not knowing what to expect, and I never expected to make it this far. It all started with the Detachment Commander at the time, Sergeant Major Andrews, who made joining the cadets really easy, and as I became more accustomed to cadet life, it only got better.

“My first year as a cadet was fun but the second year was where I really progressed, I completed my NCO’s cadre, got promoted to Lance Corporal on one of the company weekends, and I was in a team on the King’s cup competition. We didn’t come first, but it was still really fun! By the end of my second year as a cadet I was away on my first official annual camp – it was great fun, and I met loads of fantastic friends. Also, to top it all off, I got my second promotion to the rank of Corporal. 

“The best thing about the four years I’ve spent as a cadet would be the friends I’ve met along the way, which made being a cadet a really fun experience. Welbeck topped off my cadet life, as all the support from my fellow cadets and the adult volunteers was a massive help to helping me get in.

“n my final night at cadets, there were Army themed cupcakes and I received a ‘Student Soldier Box’ full of military related goods and chocolates from the other cadets.  To top the evening off Sergeant Major Andrews, who is now our Company CSM, rang to speak to me. I’d missed his visit to congratulate me a couple of weeks before but speaking to him on my last night felt like a good way to say goodbye to the cadets as he’d been the first person I’d said hello to when I’d started.

“As a final thought, I would like to thank all of the staff and cadets in Merseyside ACF for their help and support whilst I’ve been a cadet, and I wish everyone the best of luck for the future.”

Sergeant Instructor Burns – McCombe said: “When I started at Hoylake Detachment, I was somewhat bewildered, having never been a cadet or in the military and despite having a husband who had been in the Army, it was all very new to me and I really was like a duck out of water! Oliver has been a godsend to me from the moment I started. He has always been polite, helpful and may I add extremely patient, especially when he used to have to repeatedly tell me the basic commands of drill! I genuinely feel that Cdt Sgt Quirk’s help along my journey from Potential Instructor to Sergeant Instructor was invaluable, and myself and the rest of the Detachment wish him all the very best in his future chosen career and life.

For more information on Welbeck Defence 6th Form College and the recruitment process visit