A teenager who arrived in Yorkshire from the Philippines speaking almost no English has been appointed to the highest possible rank for an army cadet.

Ashanti Mai Holden moved to the UK in 2016 when her British father-in-law took up a post in the country.

Before that, she was raised in the Philippines and spoke the native Tagalog language.

The 18-year-old’s new role as Regimental Sergeant Major for his county means Officer Cadet Ashanti Mai is now responsible for leading all cadets in the Yorkshire Army Cadet Force (North and West), commanding up to 400 cadets at any one time during the departmental parade.

Regimental Sergeant Major Ashanti Mai Holden inspects cadets at Northallerton Detachment (Reserve Forces and Cadet Associations/PA)

Ashanti Mai, who is part of the army cadet force at Northallerton Detachment in Yorkshire (North and West), said: ‘My older brother was in cadets and loved it so I thought I would would join too.

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

Colonel Fred Owen, Commander of ACF Yorkshire (North and West), said: “Ashanti Mai is a great example of what young people can achieve when they put their minds to it and she has really risen to the top the higher for a cadet.

“Since joining the cadets, she has taken every opportunity that has been presented to her. Along with mastering the English language, she has become a fantastic mental health ambassador supporting her fellow cadets throughout the pandemic.

“She is an incredible role model to all who meet her and I am delighted that she has managed to achieve the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, which has limited her access to some of the courses she is required. .

Ashanti Detachment instructor Mai Holden said she was an ‘outstanding cadet’ (Reserve Forces and Cadet Associations/PA)

Ashanti Mai Detachment Instructor, SSI Lewis Wilde of Northallerton Detachment, said: “It was amazing to watch Ashanti transform from a shy newcomer with very little English into an outstanding cadet that she has now become.

“She is respected by everyone who meets her and I am immensely proud of all her accomplishments. She brings sunshine and positivity to detachment as well as tremendous amounts of self-discipline and commitment to any task.

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