Dromore teenager Ryan McDowell has been honoured at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle where he was formally appointed to serve as one of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadets for the County Borough of Belfast.w
The inspirational 16-year-old will be one of just 11 Lord Lieutenants’ Cadets selected to take on a year-long, largely ceremonial, role. Ryan can expect a busy year ahead, attending Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast, on major civic occasions.
In recognition of the award, Ryan will wear special insignia on his uniforms throughout his year in office.
The Citation which accompanies the award to the Dromore High School student states: “Cadet Sergeant Ryan McDowell commends the contribution which he makes 817(Lisburn) Squadron Air Training Corps, describing him as ‘a model Cadet’.”
Cadet Sergeant McDowell has progressed through, and successfully completed, the Air Cadet Classification training syllabus and, aged just 16, is already ably mentoring Junior Cadets on Squadron in Drill, Dress and delivering the training which will to help them to complete their Junior Cadet programme.
Amongst an impressive range of achievements, Cadet Sergeant McDowell has successfully completed Leading and Senior Cadet Classifications, earned HeartStart and Youth First Aid badges, tackled Basic and Intermediate swimming competencies, earned Blue Gliding Wings and his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Since the introduction of a new and progressive training system for Air Cadets, he continued to soar and is in the process of completing his silver Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Ryan represents his Squadron in many activities and competitions throughout the year, notably at Armed Forces Day, Portrush and Newcastle Airshows, Wing Field Day and at Veteran Parades and Wing Competitions.
He has also represented NI Wing at events such as the St John Ambulance Youth Challenge and Army Cadet Force Orienteering Challenge and regularly represents the Squadron, Wing, Region and Corps in Cross Country, Athletics and Football.
Ryan achieved his representational ‘Blues’ in his first year and subsequent successes have included the UK Air Cadets’ Corps Cross Country Champion in 2015; UK Corps Athletics Silver and Bronze medallist in 1500m and 400m respectively. He was selected to carry the Royal Air Force 100 Baton during its celebratory tour of Northern Ireland in May 2018, completing the final leg alongside with Dame Mary Peters.
Cadet Sergeant McDowell has also been a member of the winning drill team in Northern Ireland Wing for the last three years.
In addition to his Cadet activities Ryan is proud to represent Dromore Athletic Club at the Ulster and Irish Cross Country and Athletics Championships and is an outstanding sportsman at his school, playing rugby for the 1st XV and football for his year 12 team.
The award Citation praises Ryan for his support for elderly people in his local community, tending gardens in summer and keeping pathways clear in the winter months.
He is also an enthusiastic fundraiser for good causes which have included Multiple Sclerosis, NI Cancer Fund for Children, Royal Air Force Association, Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and Battle of Britain Wings Appeal.
The Citation concludes: “Cadet Sergeant McDowell is a highly dependable Cadet and extremely well thought of by his peers and staff alike. His bearing and personal discipline are exemplary... he is hardworking, honest and committed to everything he does, setting the highest of examples to all Cadets.”