The CVQO Westminster Award

The CVQO Westminster Award 2021

Nominations for the 2021 CVQO Westminster Award are now closed!

Like so many cadet force and youth group events, the CVQO Westminster Award has experienced disruption due to COVID-19.

We received more nominations than ever for the 2020 award, but sadly, the competition then had to be placed on hold with selection and the summer expedition cancelled.

The good news is we have found a solution to ensure that no-one who had reached selection in 2020 will miss out and we have also re-shaped the competition for 2021.

Unfortunately we will be unable to travel to South Africa in 2021, but we are planning a truly unique UK-focused expedition in its place that will capture the same levels adventure, community-focus and unpredictability – while also helping a UK community in need.

So what’s happening?
  • The CVQO Westminster Award process will move forward as normal until the selection event phase, which we intend to take place around Easter 2021. At this point, selection event finalists from 2020 will join our 2021 nominees for selection and we will hold a combined event for both years.
  • Depending on government advice at the time, we will either hold a four-day residential as usual, or we will hold an online selection event. Further information about this will be released nearer to the event(s). Following selection, we will then announce our finalists.
  • The House of Lords lunch, again subject to government guidance, will take place in June 2021. Assuming numbers allow, we hope to announce two Westminster Award winners at the lunch: one for 2020 and one for 2021.
  • The 2021 Westminster Award expedition will be a UK-focused trip and will encompass the spirit, adventure and community-focused nature of South Africa while providing a totally different experience. This is currently in the planning stage but we’re very excited about where it’s heading!

How to apply and eligibility

Eligibility criteria (applies to 2021 nominations)

  • Be registered for or have completed a CVQO BTEC Level 2 qualification
  • Age criteria: be born between 1 September 2002 and 31 August 2003
  • There can be one nomination per unit (e.g. squadron/detachment/equivalent cadet unit or youth group)
  • This means Counties/Areas/Wings (or equivalent regional designation) can nominate multiple candidates


Timings for the 2020 and 2021 Award:

  • 2021 Nominations open – November 2020
  • 2021 Nominations close – 29 January 2021
  • Stage 2 challenge set – February 2021
  • Selection in Somerset – likely to be Tuesday 6 – Friday 9 April 2021
  • Finalists announced – late April 2021
  • House of Lords lunch – June 2021
  • Finalists expedition – Departs July 2021 

What is the CVQO Westminster Award?

The CVQO Westminster Award is an annual competition designed to recognise and reward the most deserving of our learners.

Each year we invite cadet and youth group leaders to come forward and nominate a brilliant young person for something they’ve achieved. Additionally, nominations can now be endorsed by fellow cadets!

We deliberately leave the criteria for the nomination open; it could be that they’ve overcome a personal challenge, helped a family member or friend in need, undertaken some amazing community/charity work or are simply an all-round terrific character.

Stage 1 - Nominations

The first step is the nominations stage. In November each year we open nominations, whereby adult volunteers and youth leaders are invited to put forward a deserving young person via a short nomination form.

Stage 2 - Candidate submissions

After the stage 1 sift, in which CVQO staff and former finalists grade each submission, the successful nominees are set an assignment. We encourage creative submissions using various media types to tell us why they should win a place at selection in Somerset.

Stage 3 - Selection in Somerset

Nominees who are successful in getting this far win a brilliant residential week in Somerset. They enjoy an action packed programme of outdoor, team-building activities, as well as having the opportunity to gain an ILM Level 3. After selection we decide who our finalists will be…

Awards lunch at the House of Lords

The second best part! After selection, our ten lucky finalists can look forward to lunch at the House of Lords with their families, nominating officers and friends, where the overall winner is announced.

The expedition

Finally, there’s an incredible two-week UK expedition to look forward to. Our finalists will take part in community projects, work with local schools and, above all, have a lot of fun along the way.

Being involved with CVQO has broadened my horizons beyond the bounds of inner city London where I grew up. The interview practice and feedback that constituted part of the CVQO-led BTEC curriculum provided me with a foundation that I used in preparation for my interview at the University of Cambridge.

Precious Oyelade, 2012 CVQO Duke of Westminster Award finalist