18-year-old Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of Yorkshire Army Cadet Force
Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden arrived in the UK only six years ago having previously been brought up in the Philippines (Picture: British Army).
Cadets

Filipina teenager appointed highest rank possible for Army cadet

18-year-old Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of Yorkshire Army Cadet Force
Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden arrived in the UK only six years ago having previously been brought up in the Philippines (Picture: British Army).

A teenager who arrived in Yorkshire from the Philippines six years ago, speaking barely a word of English, has been appointed the highest rank possible for an Army Cadet.

Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of her county, meaning she is now responsible for leading cadets within Yorkshire Army Cadet Force.

The rank is the pinnacle of any cadet career, with very few showing the skills needed for the role which will see Ashanti Mai commanding as many as 400 cadets during the county parade.

This is made even more impressive considering the 18-year-old has only been in the UK since 2016, having been brought up in the Philippines speaking the native Tagalog language.

"My older brother was in the cadets and loved it so I thought I'd join too," Ashanti Mai said.

"Back then there were so many new things to get used – a new home, a new school, new friends. But the cadets gave me a community and helped me find my place in my new country.

"I've absolutely loved all the opportunities the cadets has given to me and I've made the most of every single one.

	18-year-old Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden, appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of Yorkshire Army
Staff Cadet Ashanti Mai Holden said she "absolutely loved all the opportunities" the cadets has given her (Picture: British Army).

"I've loved all the challenges, from raising money for charity to climbing mountains and even playing rugby, which is quite something for a 4ft 9in girl."

Colonel Fred Owen, commandant of Yorkshire (North and West) ACF, said Ashanti Mai "has truly risen to the very highest pinnacle for a cadet".

"Since joining the cadets she has embraced every opportunity given to her," he said.

"As well as mastering the English language, she has become a fantastic ambassador for mental health by supporting her fellow cadets throughout the pandemic.

"She is an amazing role model to all those who meet her and I'm delighted that she has succeeded in achieving the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic which has limited her access to some of the courses she's needed."

Ashanti Mai is in Year 13 at Northallerton School and hopes to eventually join the Royal Corps of Signals.