Thursday, April 24, 2014
A troop of young riders are offering a solemn salute to a tradition that has lasted almost a quarter of a century.
The Suffolk Junior Cavalry will parade for the final time next month, when it stands down as a result of depleting membership.
The cavalry first paraded at Valley Farm Riding Centre, in Wickham Market, in June 1990. Known then as the Valley Farm Mounted Troop, the unit was made up of four young riders, including current equitation instructor Amanda Melton.
Following success at charity fetes and garden parties, and with an increasing membership, the troop adopted a scarlet uniform and other military accoutrements. Former Household Cavalry member Colin Trench spent six years instructing the unit from 1996, leading to displays at the Eye Show, Heveningham Hall and Newmarket Carnival, before his death just two months before the unit’s second Eye Show.
By July 2008, the unit was known as the Suffolk Junior Cavalry, and became affiliated with the Royal British Legion (RBL) through its Wickham Market branch, for which junior officer Bettina Goode became standard bearer.
In recent years, membership has depleted, with four of the last six remaining members moving on this summer to further education or jobs.
Founder, David Foster, said: “Despite continued recruitment campaigns, we have failed to obtain the sufficient new members required to continue the operation of the unit. Therefore the decision was taken to ‘stand down’ the unit. The unit may recommence at a later date if sufficient new members wish to join.”
Over the years, the cavalry has carried out dismounted duties at various events, included parading at the Suffolk Show and marching on Anzac Day celebrations. Each year it marks Remembrance Sunday with sidesman duties during church services and the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph in Wickham Market.
Juniors have learned ceremonial sword drill and worked through different levels of ‘trade awards’ in riding and horse care. Senior riders, Jessica Green and Anya Tobin, have both completed the British Horse Society Stage 1 riding qualification.
On Sunday, May 11, the cavalry will parade for the final time at Valley Farm. Former members, parents, friends and RBL members of are invited to attend. Call 01473 718419 or visit suffolk-junior-cavalry.org