A FORMER Christchurch Army cadet is in the running for a national military honour.

Ex-Company Sgt Major Ella McAlister has been announced as a finalist for the CVQO Westminster Award

She is now in the expedition stage of the competition having been nominated for the 2020 prize.

Ella has 'aged out' of the cadets having reached 18 but will still represent Dorset in the finals, which were deferred by a year due to the Covid pandemic.

She will join this year's finalists as 10 young people from each of the past two years, come together for a combined expedition to Cornwall in late July where they will be working with charities, schools and a worldwide humanitarian aid organisation on a varied programme of activities.

Dorset Army Cadet Force CVQO Officer, Capt Kerry Barker said: “Following her nomination for the CVQO Westminster Award in 2020, Ella was successful in getting to the selection event which, because of Covid, did not happen.

"She was invited to attend a virtual selection event in April 2021 where she attended four days of online activities, all done with other finalists from 2020/2021.”

Capt Barker added: “I am so pleased Ella was successful in getting to the final 20 and secured a place on a trip to Cornwall. She has undertaken a number of CVQO qualifications throughout her time in cadets and is more than deserving of a place on the trip, I really hope that she enjoys the experience and getting to meet the others face to face for the first time.”

This year finalists are also doing things a little differently when it comes to the ‘House of Lords lunch, which will take place on Thursday, September 16, where two winners (one for 2020 and one for 2021) will be crowned.

“I am immensely proud to have made the final ten in what has been an unusual set of circumstances," said Ella.

"Although Covid meant I’ve come to the end of my Cadet journey before I got to finish the Award process, I am over the moon that I can continue to represent Dorset ACF a little longer.

"I’d like to thank all the Adult Instructors for their support and encouragement throughout my whole time as a Cadet, it’s all come together in this amazing opportunity.”