Grantham character Nobby is ‘too old’ to keep his ACF uniform

Nobby Clark has been discharged from ACF because he is over 65.
Nobby Clark has been discharged from ACF because he is over 65.
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After 35 years’ service to the Army Cadet Force, 66-year-old Nobby Clark has been discharged – because he is “too old”.

His face will be familiar to many readers, whose children may have been trained by Nobby. Some might have been trained themselves as youngsters.

But now, he is forced to take a civilian role, banned from wearing his uniform and from instructing the county’s cadets as squadron training sergeant major.

However, he is not taking the matter lying down and has begun a battle to have the decision overturned.

He said: “I’m doing this because I’m fit and healthy and I consider I have a lot more I can give to the Army cadets, and also to give to the town as well. And now I’m retired I’ve got the time to do it.”

The Remembrance parade through Grantham is a key event Nobby takes part in, but he also forms part of the St George’s Day parade, which took place on Sunday. Banned from wearing his uniform, Nobby marched in a suit and bowler hat.

Although he was saddened to march as a civilian, he said the scouts and guides wanted him to join them. This has further bolstered his hopes to get the decision overturned.

Nobby, who lives in the Alma Park area of Grantham, was formally informed by letter that he would no longer form part of the ACF.

The letter stated: “We have clear guidance in the ACF Manual and from Bde that extensions beyond 65 years old should only (going forward) be submitted if the subject officer or volunteer is absolutely mission critical to each county. Your presence is of great value, your efforts and hard work are very important – but I cannot objectively and credibly suggest that you are indispensable.”

It also stated: “This will undoubtedly be of great disppointment to you; I know how passionate you are about the Army Cadet Force and what a significant part of your life the ACF has become.”

Nobby is not only taking a stand for himself but also for other older volunteers with the ACF, one of whom is a colleague based at Stamford and has also been discharged.

He has taken the fight to Grantham MP Nick Boles, who has asked Brigadier Harry Nickerson, Commander 49 (East) Brigade at Nottingham, to reconsider his decision.

Mr Boles said he made the point that being cut at the age of 65 is outdated at a time when people are living longer and leading more active lifes. Mr Boles is awaiting a reply.

However, judging by the statement sent to the Journal this week from the Army press office, the battle may be in vain even before it has begun in earnest.

It reads: “The ACF is one of the country’s largest youth organisations that prepare young people for life through challenging, fun filled experiences.

“It values all of its uniformed volunteer adult instructors and the contributions they make to the ACF.

“It is a youth organisation; young people can serve in the cadets from 12-18-years of age and people are invited to become adult instructors from the age of 18-years with a finishing age of 65.

“If an adult wishes to stay in the cadets after the age of 65 they can become a civilian assistant and still provide a valuable service.”