MARKETHILL man Paul Shepherd has been honoured at Buckingham Palace with the presentation of an OBE - one of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Birthday Honours.
Paul, who is a past pupil of Markethill High School and Portadown College, has been Cadet Commandant of the 1st Northern Ireland Battalion Army Cadet Force (ACF) since 2007, and his award recognizes his ‘outstanding leadership, which has helped the ACF to flourish in Northern Ireland in unique and challenging circumstances’.
Paul is a member of the academic staff at the University of Ulster and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and is currently the teaching and learning Coordinator for the School of Health Sciences and the programme director for the BSc (Hons) Radiotherapy and Oncology programme.
Speaking about his award Paul said, “I am very privileged to be the Cadet Commandant of the 1st (NI) Bn ACF and am eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve to lead. I felt particularly valued, as we celebrated Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, to be appointed an Ordinary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and it was fantastic recently to travel to Buckingham Palace with my family to receive the award which I dedicate to everyone who volunteers to serve. For me, it has been a privilege to serve in the Territorial Army and Army Cadet Force during the past thirty years and I am delighted to have the opportunity publicly to thank my wife and family for their continued support over the years.”
Offering his congratulations Colonel Norman Walker OBE, Chairman of the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association Northern Ireland said, “We were all delighted to see this splendid and well-deserved recognition for ‘Colonel Paul’ as he is known to all in the Cadet movement. He has given decades of service to his community with determination, a sense of purpose and unswerving commitment. His faith in the young people who make up our vibrant and hugely successful Cadet movement is equaled only by his own lively sense of fun.”
Paul’s long-standing commitment to the Cadet movement is something of a family affair. He met his wife, Vivian, while the pair were members of the Queen’s University Officer Training Corps back in 1982 (he returned to command Queen’s UOTC in 2003). And his two sons, Paddy (18) and Harry (16), are cadets with the Ballygowan Detachment, 2nd (NI) Bn ACF where they have enjoyed considerable success. Recently Paddy was the commander and Harry a team member of the Ballygowan Irish Guards Detachment team who won the National Irish Guards Military Skills Competition 2012.
The victory means that the Ballygowan Detachment will be affectionately known as the ‘Colonels’ Detachment’ until the title has to be defended once again later this year.