Regiment juniors may carry flag
By ANDY GILBERT
THE longest-serving regiment in Hong Kong hopes an agreement to save its junior corps beyond next year's disbandment will eventually help under-privileged children in the territory.
The 140-year-old Royal Hong Kong Regiment, known as The Volunteers, will disband on September 3 next year as part of the draw-down of the British Garrison in Hong Kong.
But under an informal agreement struck with the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club and Hongkong Bank, its junior soldiers - the J Corps - may survive.
The sponsorship agreement would transform the 14-to 17-year-olds from the J Corps into the Hong Kong Adventure Training Corps under a commercial youth development programme.
The new corps would be located at the government-owned High Island Adventure Training Centre, which is used for training by the armed forces.
Commanding officer of the Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Kestrel Simpson, said he hoped the centre could be used to take parties of under-privileged and problem children.
''The centre would be an ideal base for the corps and we have discussed with the social services about it being used by problem kids as it is not used very much during the day,'' he said.
''If the new corps takes off there is no reason why the centre couldn't be used in this way.'' He said he hoped the new corps, which would run along similar lines as the Venture Scouts, could play a major role in co-ordinating use of the centre by other groups.
The Volunteers are currently based in Sports Road near Happy Valley racecourse, but the base is being demolished early next month to make way for extension to the course.
Their home for the next year will be the first three floors of the new Jockey Club building just completed nearby.
The J Corps consists of about 300 youths who undergo nine months' training in skills such as map reading, first aid and leadership. They meet on 16 Sundays a year and take part in five weekend and two week-long camps.