ATHLETICS: Sleaford cadet Poppy will run in nationals

Poppy Needham approaches the finish line at Boston.
Poppy Needham approaches the finish line at Boston.

A 14-year-old girl from Sleaford has qualified to run in the National Army Cadet Force (ACF) Athletics Championship.

Cadet Poppy Needham ran a blistering 800m to take gold at the ACF Eastern Region Finals, hosted at Boston’s Princess Royal Sports Arena.

Poppy will have the ACF national record, established in 2012 at 2min 38sec, in her sights. Her 50m winning margin at Boston will certainly make her a force to reckon with at the nationals, which take place at the Meres Stadium, Grantham, on June 11.

Her father, a British Army Reservist, is a keen runner and they regularly complete six-milers together.

“Dad keeps me focused and never lets me stop for a rest on our runs,” commented Poppy.

She joined the Army Cadets as soon as she reached Year 8 at school and is following in the footsteps of her elder siblings.

Poppy said: “I love everything about the Army Cadets, especially weekend camps, when I get to meet cadets from other detachments. I love the outdoors and want to progress as far as I can in the cadets.

“I’m doing what I love – it’s much better than spending my weekends shopping.”

Poppy is very close to achieving her two star cadet qualification and is targeting 2017 for her first promotion – to Cadet Lance Corporal.

This summer she will be attending a 10-day annual camp in Warcop, Cumbria, where she will join 400 cadets from Lincolnshire. This will be a great opportunity to progress her shooting and fieldcraft skills, as well as engaging in adventurous pursuits such as kayaking and climbing.

But at the moment she is fully focused on June 11 and helping Eastern Region retain their ACF National Athletics Championship title.

n Anyone interested in joining the UK’s biggest youth organisation, either as a cadet or n adult instructor, should visit