A Buzz in Kettering as the Royal Navy Visit Local Air Cadet Squadron
On the afternoon of Wednesday 14th July, Kettering was met by an unfamiliar sight and sound for the town – the Royal Navy.
31 RAF Air Cadets from 1101 (Kettering), 1084 (Market Harborough), 378 (Mannock) and 422 (Corby) Squadrons were invited, along with their staff, to this visit from the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm’s 815 NAS to Kettering.
The Royal Navy and the Air Cadets’ parent unit, the Royal Air Force, believe fully in engaging with the communities in which they serve, to give insight to the next generation of aspiring service personnel about life in the military. Whilst visits like this are not the norm, wherever they can, the military are always willing to give back – as often many of the personnel are ex-cadets themselves.
With the 12 months previous to the return to face to face activities in April consisting of entirely remotely delivered training, and with the British Summer in full swing, the opportunity presented itself to remind the cadets and, indeed, the local population in Kettering of #WhatWeDo.
“It’s been a difficult 12-14 months of online training delivery” Said Flying Officer John Gore, Commanding Officer of 1101 Kettering Squadron RAF Air Cadets. “Not all of our cadets have engaged fully with this method of training and we have lost over half of our cadets as a result.
“But we were presented with an opportunity to give back to our cadets and reward them for their dedication, to induct our newest cadets with a flavour of the kinds of dynamic activities we can achieve and also to work together with our local units for the first time in over a year and a half.”
Planning for this event commenced many months ago – as well as the usual intricacies of bringing a piece of flying military hardware to a bustling town centre, the Air Cadets’ organising staff also had to ensure they could safeguard their cadets and the aircrew from the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus.
“Whenever you have the chance to plan an activity like this, you are always acutely aware of the importance of getting it ‘right’” added Gore. “We were so fortunate to have the unwavering support of North Northamptonshire Council – who own the land – and also that of our own chain-of-command, to ensure we could execute this activity without risking the safety of our cadets, staff, the aircrew and the general public.”
The helicopter arrived shortly before 13:30, landing on the field and powering down, enabling the cadets to meet the aircrew, who gave them a tour of the exterior and explained its role and capabilities. The aircrew also explained their roles in a multi-crew aircraft and the kind of training they went through.
As the crowds from the local school began to gather, the anticipation and excitement began to build. The crew sprang into life, preparing the helicopter for departure, and as the engines roared into life, many of the bystanding young children screamed with excitement.
The helicopter and crew commenced their return journey to Somerset just before 4pm, as a crowd of nearly 200 bystanders had gathered and traffic had stopped to witness the spectacle.
“There was a real buzz in the town, with schools and traffic grinding to a halt as a result of the departure of the helicopter.” Commented Gore. “It was an incredible feeling to see the cadets, staff and public enjoying this visit so much. I am incredibly grateful to the Navy for the effort they put in to make this event possible, despite large numbers of 815 Naval Air Squadron currently being embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth on her landmark Carrier Strike Group tour to the far-East.
“We are looking forward to an exciting summer of activities, with cadets having opportunities to get away to summer camp at RAF stations in the coming months. We have seen unprecedented demand from young people to join our Squadron and are looking forward to welcoming our second fully-subscribed intake in as many months, in just a few weeks time.”
Earlier this week our very own Sergeant Chouhan and Cadet Sergeant Sheena Chouhan put their lifesaving skills, learnt in the Air Cadets, into action whilst out in the community.
During a normal day out in Belgrave, Leicester Sgt Chouhan, Cadet Sgt Chouhan and nephew/cousin Kieran were witness to an incident, resulting in a woman becoming unconscious and requiring help. All rushed into action following the incident with Sgt Chouhan assessing the woman’s injuries and Cadet Sgt Chouhan managing the scene and getting in touch with the emergency services.
Following Sgt Chouhan putting the woman into the recovery position to keep her air ways open, both Sgt Chouhan and Cadet Sgt Chouhan remained with her until the emergency services arrived to take over. Reflection on the incident Cadet Sgt Chouhan said “Although the situation was nerve-racking, our priority was her safety. I am fortunate for the training I’ve received from Sgt at 1947 (Birstall) Squadron” with Sgt Chouhan’s adding “It all happened so fast however, instinct took over and we were quickly able to work as a team to secure the area and offer the first aid required. I am immensely proud of my daughter and nephew on how they reacted in this type of situation, both remaining calm and acting effectively.”
Today marks the end of an era for the Wing as we say goodbye to Wing Command Andy Pass and he officially takes up his new post as the Senior Volunteer Advisor, the first volunteer Group Captain role. He moves on from a five year tenure as Officer Commanding South & East Midlands Wing.
During his time in command he has maintained the Wing’s position as one of the consistently top performing wings in the RAFAC and driven a number of successful organisational shifts within the Wing. The changes have moved the Wing into a more supportive structure for the individual units and the volunteers that run them, with a particular passion for sustaining their mental health and providing them recognition for their successes. His final few weeks in command have allowed him to show this passion by visiting a number of squadrons in order to present the many commendations and awards that they have been awarded over the past 18 months.
This era began in 1988 when he joined 2195 (Long Eaton) Squadron within the Wing. As an adult volunteer he commanded a couple of Squadrons before becoming a Wing Staff Officer with a variety of portfolios. He will continue to be regarded as an agent of change within the Wing, never content to rest on his laurels but to continue to deliver a better cadet experience. In 2016 he became Officer Commanding South & East Midlands Wing, first Acting and then appointed in early 2017. During his leadership the Wing continued to grow and maintain its position as the largest Wing in the RAFAC. Wing Commander Pass was awarded an MBE in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
We would like to wish Group Captain Andy Pass MBE the best of luck in his new role and thank him for the many years of support, guidance and leadership he has given to our Wing.
A group of volunteers based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron is one of over 1,000 squadrons of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) that offer a wide range of activities, qualifications and opportunities to young people across the country. Squadrons are managed by teams of uniformed and non-uniformed adult volunteers who give their time to help plan, organise and run the array of incredible opportunities that are on offer to the young people.
The volunteers of 1279 (Melton Mowbray) take on a variety of roles from instructors to squadron treasurer in order to facilitate the best possible chances to see the young people develop and also to find opportunity to forge links with their local community. Before lockdown set in, the squadron volunteers had clocked up an additional 1330 hours of activities outside of the 5 hours each week that they give. During lockdown, the volunteers of the squadron continued to provide opportunities to keep connected with the young people resulting in the award of over 100 badges, certificates and qualifications for the cadets. With a team of 18 volunteers across the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers and Civilian Committee, the volunteers go above and beyond to provide the best possible cadet experience for the young people that they work with as well as to ensure great support and links within their local community of Melton Mowbray.
1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron, Royal Air Force Air Cadets, is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.
Wing Commander Andy Pass RAFAC, Officer Commanding South and East Midlands Wing Royal Air Force Air Cadets, commented, “I am thrilled & delighted that 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron has been recognised by the award of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The Squadron excels in the delivery of the full cadet experience & there is no question that it’s an outstanding RAF Air Cadet unit of the highest order. Their countless achievements & successes is a testament to the shear hard work and commitment of a dedicated group of staff volunteers and civilian committee members serving the needs of an enthusiastic & motivated group of Air Cadets from across Leicestershire. Of significant mention is the Squadron’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following suspension of all face-to-face cadet activity, the Squadron was a leading force nationally in the implantation of online activity by running Virtual Parade Nights.”
Representatives of 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron will receive the award crystal and certificate from Mr Mike Kapur, OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from the group will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
For the cadets of 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron, Royal Air Force Air Cadets, their recent virtual parade night was no ordinary evening. Whilst it promised to be a fun and challenging night for the cadets, they were joined by a special guest to make the evening that much more memorable.
After being put forward by their Wing Commander back in February to host a special guest during a virtual session, the squadron were informed in early March that they had been selected to host Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Richard Maddison OBE MA RAF. AVM Maddison is the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) 22 Group RAF, which is the part of the RAF that the Air Cadets comes under.
The AOC joined the squadron alongside Wing Commander Andy Pass RAFAC, Officer Commanding South and East Midlands Wing, to get to understand what activities are taking place around the organisation and to get a chance to interact with cadets, to hear their views. However, before the AOC was given the opportunity to take part in a question and answer session with the cadets – he took on a key role for the evening. The cadets were taking part in an Air Cadet/RAF themed ‘Taskmaster’ challenge evening so the AOC stepped in to be the ultimate judge and award the points for the cadets’ efforts throughout the night.
Cadets were put through their paces from finding the best aviation object in their house for the taskmaster; creating the tallest tower in RAF colours; recreating the Corps crest using items from around their house; and attempting to guess and draw the AOC’s favourite RAF aircraft. Whilst he is used to challenging decisions in his day job, this was a new form of the challenge for the Air Vice Marshal. However, the AOC was a tough Taskmaster and critically judged each round to give the cadets the chance to be crowned as the evening’s Taskmaster champion. The competition was tough and it ended up with the difference of one point between first, second and third place!
After the competition had finished, AVM Maddison took time to give the cadets an overview of his career as an RAF officer and helicopter pilot before taking part in a quick-fire question session following by a question and answer session with the cadets. A wide range of questions were explored including the AOC’s favourite postings in the RAF, his advice for those going into the RAF, where he sees the RAF going over the coming years and even which flavour starburst he enjoys!
Flight Lieutenant Dan McGlynn RAFAC, the squadron’s Officer Commanding, commented, “It was a real honour to host the AOC for the evening. He was fully involved in the activity and was an excellent Taskmaster throughout the night. The cadets really appreciated his feedback and involvement during the tasks. His answers during the Q&A session were very insightful and I know helped to inspire the cadets, giving them an insight into what the AOC does. I’m really proud that we’ve been involved in this event and truly proud to be able to show the AOC the incredible young people and volunteers that help to make this organisation.”
Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO) Sam Page, 19, has recently received the accolade of being awarded his Gold Glider Wings, the first set to be issued to any cadet at 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron. Sam has previously seen a wealth of aviation success from being awarded a Flying Scholarship through the Royal Air Forces Association and then completing a Silver Wings Gliding Scholarship over the past few years. On completion of his Silver Wings training, the CWO was invited to remain with the team at 644 Volunteer Gliding School (VGS) as a Flight Staff Cadet (FSC) and to begin his Gold Wings Glider Training.
The Gold Wings syllabus continues the ground school that the CWO learnt during his Silver Wings Training, a written exam and gliding sorties under instruction. The intense course culminates in five assessed solo sorties. Undertaking his training for almost a year, due to training being on hold throughout most of 2020 due to COVID-19, Sam completed his final solo sortie early October to qualify him for his Gold wings. CWO Page continues to support the VGS as a Flight Staff Cadet and is now aiming for the next steps in his gliding career that will enable him to pass on his gliding knowledge to other cadets!
South & East Midlands Wing adult volunteer, Squadron Leader Alyn Thompson RAFAC, has received an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Squadron Leader Thompson commissioned into the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training) Branch 40 years ag
o, four years later becoming the 7th Officer Commanding of 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron. Following Squadron Leader Thompson having been at the helm for 35 years, Swadlincote is a jewel amongst the Corps’ 950 units, having attracted multiple awards for excellence. Swadlincote won the Morris Trophy for best large unit in the Corps in 2009 and then replicated this feat in 2017, an unprecedented achievement.
During his time in charge of 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron he has been heavily involved in supporting a variety of local, national and international projects. This notably includes setting up a partnership with an African orphanage in Burundi and supporting Aqua Boxes, water purification systems for Third World Countries. As part of this support Squadron Leader Thompson has raised £27,000 for these various causes over the past 10 years.
Alongside his squadron commitments he has played a vital role on the Wing Spring Camp, as Flight Liaison for more than 20 years. In this role he ensures the welfare and morale of the 300 cadets on the camp, enabling the camp to run smoothly and to ensure all cadet have a great experience. Squadron Leader Thompson has also been heavily involved in the International Air Cadet Exchange Programme. Joining the programme in 2003, initially as an Escorting Officer, he now acts as the Lead Officer for the UK element of the programme, a role he very much enjoys.
Already acting as a mentor to generations of cadets and adult volunteers, due to his vast experience and professionalism, Squadron Leader Thompson accepted the Wing post of Sector Commander. A role which enables him to lead and motivate six squadrons with 400 cadets and 70 adult volunteers across Derbyshire and north Leicestershire, allowing him to continue to pass down his experience to the next generation of Commanding Officers.
There are many more achievements and highlights that could be listed in this article from the many achievements and activities Squadron Leader Thompson has completed but his greatest achievement is the long lasting impression he has left on the cadets and staff who have worked with him, so evident when his MBE was listed. On accepting the award Squadron Leader Thompson said “The work that the volunteers do within the Air Cadet Organisation is exceptional and I feel most honoured to be the individual to have been granted this honour. I have been a member of the organisation since joining as a Cadet 50 years ago and find it gratifying to be granted this for something which I thoroughly enjoy.”
After 16 years, Flight Lieutenant Jackie Lawrence RAFAC has handed over command of Rutland Air Cadet Squadron to Warrant Officer Ian Coates, the newly appointed Commanding Officer.
In April this year, Jackie was promoted to Sector Commander 3 of the South & East Midlands Wing and has since been managing the two roles, she said ‘It has been a rewarding, but challenging time as I have taken on wider responsibility at a time when Covid-19 has had a significant operational impact. I feel confident that Rutland Sqn is in good hands and look forward to working closely with WO Coates, who was previously a staff member on the Sqn.’
Ian Coates said ‘Flt Lt Lawrence has done a remarkable job at Rutland Sqn and I have learned a lot from her. I am excited to take on my new role and further contribute to the success of the squadron.’
Jackie has been a commissioned officer with the Air Cadets for over 30 years and previously commanded two other squadrons in Melton Mowbray and Chester-Le-Street. During this time she has been awarded a Defence Council letter of appreciation and has been presented the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters Annual Trophy, a Wing award presented to an outstanding member of staff. Rutland is one of seven squadrons Jackie will oversee in her new role.
A top commendation for Flight Lieutenant Sally Clarke, Commanding Officer of 504 (West Nottingham) Squadron. Last Sunday Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Nottingham presented Flt Lt Clarke with an RAF Air Cadet Commandant’s Commendation for Meritorious Service.
Sally was presented the award for her support to both the Adult and Cadet Development Teams which she has been involved in on top of her squadron duties since 2013 and 2014, respectively. As part of these teams she is the Course Director of the Cadet Initial NCO Course and has been Directing Staff on the Civilian Instructor Course. On receiving the commendation, Sally said “I am delighted to receive the award and it was complete surprise, not what I expected at all.”
In a year where we have faced unprecedented challenges it gives us great joy to share the tremendous success of Flt Lt Jade Brock RAFAC. Last month it was announced that she had been shortlisted for a Women in Defence Award in the Outstanding Contribution category. Jade is one of nine to be shortlisted in this category for women across the whole defence industry who have exceeded the expectations of their role, with Jade being the only women shortlisted from the cadet forces.
Jade has been nominated and recently shortlisted for this award for her work as Officer Commanding of 209 (West Bridgford) Squadron. In 2016, Jade took over the unit after the Squadron was consistently towards the bottom of the Wing’s rankings, with cadets an
d staff disinterested. Since then she has driven the unit forward with her energy, enthusiasm and tireless work, transforming the squadron into a class-leading unit offering a fantastic cadet experience. Ultimately culminating in being jointly awarded the Marshall Trophy for the most improved squadron in 2019 (across 960 squadrons). During this time 209’s cadet numbers have been at an all-time high, more the twice the Corps average, and staff morale has never been better.
Starting life as cadet at 1360 (Stapleford & Sandiacre) Squadron, Jade progressed to the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer before transitioning to become a volunteer member of staff at the age of 20. Initially she went into uniform as a Senior NCO, where she qualified as a Drill Instructor, alongside supporting the Wing Adult Development Team. Before, in 2015, deciding to commission as a Commissioned Officer with the vision of becoming a Commanding Officer of a squadron.
Since becoming 209 (West Bridgford) Squadron Officer Commanding, in 2016, Jade says she is proud of how far the squadron has come and that it is great to see the it is thriving from both a cadet and staff perspective. The staff team now boasts over 40 qualifications between them a huge increase from just 9 when she took over, helping to provide their impressive cadet experience. Also, Jade is impressed with how the civilian committee has developed providing a strong team to help fundraise for the cadets enabling purchasing of a squadron minibus, musical equipment and MTA kits. On being shortlisted for the award Jade has commented she is “so excited and shocked to not only be nominated, but now also shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution category. Congratulations to all that have been shortlisted.”
“As a Wing, we are very proud of Jade’s achievements and its fantastic that these have now been recognised by her shortlisting in the Women in Defence Award for Outstanding Contribution. It is a testament to Jade’s commitment to RAF Air Cadets and her devotion to duty as an adult volunteer.” The finalists for the Women in Defence Awards will be announced at the end of October with the winners being announced on 24 March. “We wish her the best of luck in reaching the final and announcement of the winners on 24 March 2021”.
Whilst Cadets were enjoying a Virtual Parade Night of RAF related quiz questions Flt Lt Craig Mills RAFAC was notably absent as he was putting his first aid skills to the test after witnessing and being the first on scene to a serious motorbike accident.
The biker lost control on a sharp bend and collided with the steel guard rail. He used the first aid skills that he had learnt to go to the aid of the injured biker. Keeping a cool head, he applied his first aid knowledge and stayed with the casualty keeping him talking until paramedics arrived around 45 minutes later. Flt Lt Mills explained everything he had done to the paramedics and was able to pass on the casualty’s details.
“It was quite surreal, but I was just glad that the training I have done kicked in and that I was able to help him,” said Flt Lt Mills RAFAC, who is currently the Commanding Officer of 2195 (Long Eaton) RAF Air Cadets. His quick-thinking actions and ability to keep level-headed in this situation are a testament to the training which Flt Lt Mills RAFAC has received. All adult volunteers can achieve a RAFAC qualification in first aid as an adult volunteer at Air Cadets.
This year Warrant Officer (WO) Michelle Coles celebrates 30 years in Royal Air Force Air Cadets and has been awarded a Certificate of Meritorious Service for her dedication over these many years.
WO Coles joined 378 (Mannock) Squadron as a cadet on the 17 July 1990. Over the following five years she worked hard as a cadet eventually becoming a Cadet Warrant Officer in February 1995 and leaving cadets when she turned 20 in 1997. She quickly re-joined as a Civilian Instructor at the squadron, helping to deliver the first-class cadet training to new cadets.
In 2004 she successfully passed her board to become appointed as a uniformed adult Sergeant. During her time as uniformed staff she worked hard both at the squadron where she administered the squadron stores and at wing level where she provided support to South & East Midlands Wing radio courses.
As a qualified Netball umpire, she often helped out with Wing and Region Netball selections and helped officiate matches at Wing and Corps level. However, throughout her time she has also branched out beyond Central & East Region.
Alongside her commitments to her own unit, WO Coles regularly helped out with 241 Wanstead & Woodford Squadron drill camp for new cadets, provided key administration and logistical support to the running of the camp. The camp was such a success that it went on to become London Wing’s annual drill camp with WO Coles still continuing to offer support.
Michelle excelled in her success in netball providing vital support to both wing and region netball teams. In 2017 she officially left Mannock Air Cadets to take up a post as one of the deputy region sports officers. However, she didn’t leave Mannock completely, coming back to 378 to help as the squadron Training Officer.
“Michelle, thank you for everything you have done for the squadron and the wider cadet community over your past 30 years as both a cadet and staff” from every cadet and staff member you have supported in those 30 years.
Top announcement for two of our cadets, Corporal Evie Griffen from 2071 (Stamford) Squadron and Corporal Jessica Brown from 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron, who have recently been appointed as the new Station Commander’s Cadet and new A4 Force Elements Commander’s Cadet, respectively, at RAF Wittering. The role will involve accompanying Group Captain Lincoln, RAF Wittering’s Station Commander and Commander of A$ Force Elements. This will give Evie and Jess a unique insight into life within the Royal Air Force.
The two cadets found out about the role from their Commanding Officers and had to complete a formal application process involving the submission of a personal statement and CV, with Evie opting to submit a hand written personal statement which helped make her standout as a candidate. The top cadets were then invited to interview, using virtual methods, with Group Captain Lincoln before being selected as the next Station Commander’s Cadets.
Cpls Griffen and Brown have both been in the Air Cadets for 4 years and have actively been involved in what the organisation has to offer, with both cadets having a keen interest in flying and a love for week-long camps at RAF bases, with Evie having been on 8 camps in four years and Jess saying one of her biggest highlights so far is attending an overseas camp at RAF Akrotiri. Both cadets have exciting plans for their futures in the Air Cadets and we will look forward to seeing what they will go on to achieve.
When the two cadets were asked what they were most excited about in their new roles both said they were “really excited about taking part in special events and high profile parades”. Evie was also excited about “being a representative for both the Air Cadets and Royal Air Force” and how this would influence her in her cadet career and outside. Jess talked about looking forward to having the unique opportunity to have “a greater understanding of what A4 Force Elements do” and the opportunity to be mentored by serving personnel in the RAF.
Around 200 cadets and staff joined MS Teams for a virtual evening with Squadron Leader (Retired) Mike Ling MBE, former Red Arrows pilot and current pilot for The Blades. This was an incredibly engaging and interesting talk, allowing cadets and staff to gain an insight into the exciting and daring lives of fast jet pilots, and particularly the levels of skill and dedication required in becoming part of the world-renowned Red Arrows.
Squadron Leader (Retired) Ling started out in the Air Cadets progressing all the way to the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer before joining the Royal Air Force at 19 years old to train to be a pilot. He was streamed into fast jet training and that’s where his path towards the Red Arrows began. He first was involved in training new pilots on the Tucano’s, before completing his fast jet training to fly operationally in the Tornado F3. This made him eligible to join the Red Arrows and after a vigorous selection process he started his first 3-year tour with the Red Arrows, which involved him becoming part of the Synchro Pair.
After a short time away, he returned as Red 10, the team’s supervisor, for a further 6 years before stepping back from the team to become a safety manager at RAF Cranwell. His final year, bringing his total number of seasons with the Red Arrows to a record breaking 10 years, was to step in for a fellow injured colleague as Red 3. After retiring from the RAF Mike completed his commercial pilot licence and joined The Blades, the UKs only commercial aerobatics team that is made up entirely of former Red Arrows pilots.
During the talk Sqn Ldr (Ret.) Ling told listeners he had an impressive 1800 flying hours and had completed 2,585 Red Arrow sorties in 29 different Red Arrow Hawk T1s. He also talked about the huge team behind the Red Arrows and the importance of the team across the world, as a true representation of Great British excellence and prowess in the sky.
Moreover, the talk explored the Hawk T1 and T2 aircrafts, the manoeuvres used by the Red Arrows and the different life saving equipment they have onboard. At the end of the evening he reserved time for cadets and staff to ask him a range of different questions.
Cadet James Mottram, 2418 (Sherwood) Squadron, who was lucky enough to get to ask his question to Sqn Ldr (Ret.) Ling said “It was truly a great evening, which I am sure every cadet who attended enjoyed just as much as I did. Thanks to Sqn Ldr Ling for giving us the talk.”
Sqn Ldr Faulkner, South & East Midlands Aviation Officer and organiser of the talk, thought it was a sublime way to spend the evening listening to Sqn Ldr Ling talk about his truly extraordinary time with the Royal Air Force and the Red Arrows and couldn’t think of a better way to inspire the next generation of air cadets.
The Central & East Region’s search for talent has got under way with four talented cadets from South and East Midlands Wing putting themselves in the spotlight.
The Region’s Warrant Office, Warrant Officer Mike Webb, gave birth to the idea and turned it into an event that will run for the next six Sundays, a different wing each week and the Grand Final.
The whole show was hosted by Mr Webb courtesy of the excellent resource of Microsoft Teams. A panel of judges was formed from Regional staff with the addition of special Guest, Wing Commander David Miller, Officer Commanding Norfolk and Suffolk Wing and selected staff and cadets from the participating wing.
Overcoming teething problems, the show got under way and four contestants gave it their best to the rather large, although unseen, audience. Two singers, a drummer and a card trick that was performed with panache.
At the end, the judges presented their scoring and after all results were calculated the winner from South & East Midlands Wing was declared. In first place, and receiving the “Golden Buzzer” from Wing Commander Miller, was Cadet Jesica Brooks-Atherton of 2229(Lougborough) Squadron who sang beautifully. Accompanying Jesica into the Final is second placed talented magician Cadet Corporal Max Faulks of 1936 (Newton) Squadron.
On summing up after the acts had been closely watched, Wing Commander Nathan Wilkes declared: “after all my years in the Region, I have seen so much talent and these performances only served to enhance my opinion of our talented cadets. Mr Webb did an excellent job of putting the whole programme together and after initial teething problems, it all went like clockwork”
Guest “Judge” Wing Commander Miller gave it the thumbs up; “My wing (Norfolk & Suffolk) will have a lot to do to match the output from the South & East Midlands. A big thanks to Warrant Officer Webb for organising the show and making it all happen.”
Next Sunday is the turn of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire Wing to impress with their talented cadets (or staff).
Two Glenfield Air Cadets appeared on Forces Television News being interviewed about their
volunteering roles at a Leicester Community Hub.
The two cadets, Cadet Sergeant Sam Mason and Cadet Neave Williamson are helping with the making up and distribution of food and medicines to those within the Groby and Ratby area who
cannot get around during this difficult time.
Both cadets are from 2070 (Glenfield) Squadron, part of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, and volunteered to give their time. Although their work is not a Squadron activity, the squadron takes great pride in the service they are providing within the community.
Forces Television, part of the British Forces Broadcasting Service, picked up on the story after it featured on various Air Cadet media platforms. A film crew from Forces TV filmed the pair in action and interviewed the two cadets.
Sam said of the experience; “For myself it felt brilliant i just can’t believe that I was on the telly on Forces TV News. I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to be interviewed and record what I and and Cadet Williamson have been doing to help out our community.The team that came from Forces TV were brilliant, they were super friendly. I want to say thanks for giving their time”.
Neave also spoke of the experience; “I really enjoyed the interview and I thought that the interviewer was really nice. We had some good conversations when we weren’t filming and she made me feel really confident. I loved the fact that I was seeing behind the scenes, especially since journalism is a career path I’m thinking about taking. It was really fun to be involved in something like this, and I want to say thanks to the team for being so nice and helping to tell our story in such a positive way.
The story can be viewed on the Forces Website; https://www.forces.net/video?video=45264&category=489&playlist=undefined&videoId=6151624978001
This month Cadet Warrant Officer Samuel Page, 19, and Flight Sergeant Olivia Brown, 18, from 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron, Cadet Warrant Officer James May from 5F (Northampton) Squadron, Flight Sergeant Foster, from 126 (City of Derby) Squadron, Sergeant Joe Lathan, 18, from 1F (City of Leicester) Squadron and Sergeant Joe Wilson, 17, from 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron all completed the Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course. This is one of the top courses on offer in the RAF Air Cadets and is ran over a number of weekends from September through to April.
The course itself involved learning about seven different subjects that they developed their knowledge on each month, the subjects included: air power, aerodynamics, air traffic control (including simulation), basic flight training, aviation studies, aerospace activity planning, instructional technique and presentation skills. At the end of every weekend the students would write a reflective log about the weekend and would be set some task to do at home for the following weekend. Flight Sergeant Brown commented on basic flight training being her favourite subject as she “got to handle and teach on a variety of flight simulators while testing [her] skills and teaching techniques”.
During the course the workload can seem demanding at time and you are constantly under assessment whether that be based on your interaction during lessons, through the work you do at home or in practical assessments such as an air power presentation. Though this teaches you essential life skills such as time management and organisation. At the end of the course there is usually a graduation week where the students can celebrate all that was achieved over the many months and be presented with their blue lanyards, sadly that was not possible this year but Sergeant Wilson said he was “looking forward to instructing new aerospace topics and to improve all the cadets in my squadron and wing in my new role as a QAI.”
If you are passionate about aerospace and want to learn more about it and how to instruct a range of different aerospace topics, then consider completing the Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course. Cadet Warrant Officer Page “would wholeheartedly recommend the Course, as it gives you the experience and skills that are associated with the coveted blue lanyard. Having the ability to give back to the organisation that has provided me with so much is a responsibility that I handle with pride.”
Find out more at: http://www.qaic.org/
“This is one of the most amazing opportunities I have done in my Air Cadet career”
Last weekend Sergeant Harry Vardy, from 2195 (Long Eaton) Squadron, was the first cadet this year at 644 volunteer gliding school to successfully land his first solo circuit in the vigilant aircraft gain his Silver Gliding Wings. The journey started just 8 weeks prior to his first solo flight and not only involved practical gliding lessons but also involved a large amount of theory learning in a classroom environment.
Every Saturday at the Gliding School, Sergeant Vardy would complete between 4 and 8 launches, weather depending. During these launches he learnt basic controls of the aircraft, how to use thermals to maintain altitude and most importantly and most challengingly to him how to successfully launch and land the aircraft.
As Sergeant Vardy became more competent in controlling the aircraft, he began practicing his gliding circuits ready for his first solo flight but before he could go solo, he had to prove his ability within four launches to one of the main gliding instructors. Sergeant Vardy said “When I first went up on my own, I felt alive, it was a cadet career defining moment. You feel like you have no boundaries an
d the feeling of freedom because you are up in the sky on your own, it’s an amazing feeling. After I had landed safely, everyone came to congratulate me on my solo and my landing.”
You feel like you have no boundaries and the feeling of freedom because you are up in the sky on your own, it’s an amazing feeling.
The final stage of achieving his Silver Gliding Wings was to prove that not only had he developed aptitude in the practical side of gliding but that he had also been taking on the theoretical information he had learnt over the duration of the 8-weeks. Following successful competition of the theoretical test he was awarded his Silver Gliding Wings.
His final comments were for those cadets thinking of completing a gliding scholarship to sign up as soon as they are eligible, as it is something he would recommend to any cadet with an interest in aviation and loves to fly.
Air cadets from 1188 (Coalville) Squadron joined with Coalville Army Cadets and members of the British Legion to pay their respects to two local men who were awarded the Victoria Cross.
Coalville Air cadets joined with the local army cadets and members of the Whitwick Branch of the Royal British Legion on Saturday 26th October in two acts of remembrance.
Everyone met at the cemetery in Whitwick to remember Thomas Elsdon Ashford. He was a private in The Royal Fusiliers, British Army during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous gallantry during a sortie from Kandahar, on the 16th August, 1880. He helped rescue and carry Private Massey for a distance of over 200 yards, under the fire of the enemy. He was assisted by Lieutenant William St. Lucien Chase. Private Massey had taken shelter in a blockhouse. Several times they were compelled to rest, but they persevered in bringing him to a place of safety.
After his military service, Ashford settled in Thringstone, Leicestershire and served as a postman for many years. He was married in Thringstone Church to Betsy Ann Sisson on 29 January 1891. He later moved to the neighbouring village of Whitwick and died on 13 February 1913. He was laid to rest in Whitwick Cemetery, in the presence of thousands of mourners, though the grave lay unmarked for many years, until a monument was provided by the local British Legion. His VC is in the Royal Fusiliers Museum at the Tower of London.
The cadets and veterans then moved to the graveside of William Dolman Bees who is buried in the cemetery on London Rd in Coalville. He was a private in the 1st Battalion, The Derbyshire Regiment (later The Sherwood Foresters), during the Second Boer War. It was on 30 September 1901 at Moedwil, South Africa that he was awarded the VC. Private Bees was one of the Maxim-gun detachment, at Moedwil, six men out of nine had been hit. Hearing his wounded comrades asking for water, he went forward, under a heavy fire, to a spruit held by Boers about 500 yards ahead of the gun, and brought back a kettle full of water. In going and returning he had to pass within 100 yards of some rocks also held by Boers, and the kettle which he was carrying was hit by several bullets.
His VC is in the Ashford Collection at Duxford.
The cadets and veterans then made their way to the clock tower for the launch of this year’s poppy appeal.
Flt Lt Rebekah Harrison-Page RAFAC, the commanding officer of 1188 Coalville Squadron said “ I am really pleased the cadets were able to join with the members of the Royal British Legion again this year to remember those who have gone before. The weather was bitterly cold and it was raining but the cadets did the squadron proud”.
Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO) James Bland, a 19 year old Air Cadet from 2195 (Long Eaton) Squadron, Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC), has just qualified as a pilot.
After six weeks of intensive training at the Dundee based Tayside Aviation, James has become a fully licensed private pilot.
He has been awarded his Private Pilots Licence at Tayside Aviation, through a Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Sir Michael Knight Scholarship.
As part of his training James has had to complete a number of theory exams including Air Law, Radio Communications and Pilot Navigation, as well as showing competency in piloting light aircraft. As part of his flying training he completed solo circuits, short navigation flights, qualifying cross country flight (155 NM), a skills test, forced landings and emergency procedures.
James was fortunate in gaining an Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight Flying Scholarship through the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust (RAFCT). Ten of these flying scholarships are awarded each year and, on successful completion, lead to the award of a Private Pilot’s Licence for Air Cadets who, in the opinion of the Commandant Air Cadets, display the most promise for a successful career in aviation.
CWO Bland said; “This was the opportunity of a life time and the pinnacle of my Air Cadet Career achieving my Private Pilot Licence with the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. Spending six weeks in Dundee with the best of best Instructors and fellow Cadets. I want to say thank you to everyone I have met and who have helped in my development along the way from the start my cadet career. More importantly I want to say thank you to the RAFCT. This has set a foundation to my aviation career that I will always be grateful for and honoured to of have had. Thank you.”
Since joining the Long Eaton Squadron, James has achieved his Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and is working on his Gold, he has won his Silver Gliding Wings, completed the Nijmegen Marches and in 2017 went to America as one of the first cadets to gain a Lo Cox Memorial Exchange. He is also a Qualified Aerospace Instructor, enabling him to teach
other cadets the rudiments of flying and navigation using state of the are computer simulators.
209 (West Bridgford) Squadron has been selected as this year’s joint winners of the Marshall Trophy Competition, alongside 88 Battle Squadron, Sussex Wing.
The Squadron was also nominated in 2018, being one of the top six finalists from across the Corps, to represent Central and Region as the most improved Squadron in the Corps over a three year period. Since the nomination the staff and cadets at the squadron worked tirelessly to ensure all areas were fully prepared for the inspection.
Sir Arthur Marshall was born in Cambridge, England and was educated at the Perse School in Cambridge and at Tonbridge School in Kent, completing his education at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1922, where he earned a degree in engineering.
He learned to fly in 1928, and shortly thereafter created an airstrip near his family”s Cambridge home, which by 1929 had turned into a full-fledged airfield. Six years later, Marshall and his father, David, bought the land where the present Cambridge Airport now stands and started Marshall Aerospace.
To commemorate Sir Arthur’s lifelong interest in aviation, the Marshall family donated a trophy to the Air Training Corps to be presented to “The Most Improved Squadron in the ATC over a Protracted Period of Time.”
The award would not be possible without the outstanding efforts over the past 3 years from all the cadets, staff and civilian committee on the squadron. Congratulations to all!
On Saturday 6th April 1936 Newton Royal Air Force Air Cadets welcomed Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty to the unit to oversee the enrolment parade of a recent intake of new recruits.
After completing six months of training 22 cadet had the honour of being enrolled by South and East Midlands Wing Padre, Mr John Hewer accompanied by Squadron Padre, Rev. Fred Connell.
Also in attendance were dignitaries from the French Air Force, currently being hosted in the UK by Air Cdre McCafferty, whilst they are undertaking research to further develop a fledging French Air Cadet Corps.
In addition to presenting the 22 newly enrolled cadets with numerous certificates and awards Air Cdre McCafferty also formally opened the new flight simulator facility on the squadron. The Cadets, ably supported by the Squadron Civilian Committee, have carried out fundraising activities throughout the last eighteen months to enable two flight simulators to be built to aid flying training on the unit.
Wing Commander Pass, Officer Commanding South and East Midlands Wing, was then invited to open the Flt Lt Joe Clark RAF VRT Heritage Classroom. Flt Lt Clark served on 1936 Newton Squadron from 1991 to 2012, firstly as Commanding Officer to 1995 and then as a Civilian Instructor until his retirement in October 2012. Prior to being at 1936 Newton Squadron he was at 1260 Newark Squadron firstly as a CI from November 1967, before becoming a Warrant Officer in 1972, then taking his Commission in 1974 and then being promoted Flight Lieutenant Clark when he was appointed as Officer Commanding of 1260 Newark Squadron from 1976 to 1991. Flt Lt Clark received his 40 years Long Service Certificate on 5th November 2008.
Flt Lt Clark was an exemplary gentleman who dedicated many years to training cadets. Flt Lt Clark sadly passed away in 2017, though his widow, Audrey and daughter Rachel, were in attendance for the dedication.
Officer Commanding 1936 Newton Squadron, Fg Off Daniel Finch, said, “I could not be any prouder of cadets in attendance today, they have all approached their training with exceptional effort and commitment, which is evident in the high standards displayed by all today.”
Sqn Ldr Carol Haynes contribution to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets was recognised in the Royal Air Force Honours List 2019. As well as holding the post of Officer Commanding 5F Northampton Squadron Sqn Ldr Haynes is the First Aid Officer for Central and East Region.
Sqn Ldr Haynes works tirelessly on 5F Northampton Squadron leading and supporting cadets through the full range of activities on offer to them, as well as overseeing Cadet and Staff First Aid Training across the six wings in Central and East Region.
Sqn Ldr Haynes was presented with her Commendation from Air Officer Commanding Number 22 Group by Wg Cdr Pass at South and East Midlands Wing Field Day 2019.
South and East Midlands Wing are celebrating three candidates graduating from the prestigious Junior Leaders course: FS Flynn from 2229 Loughborough Squadron, FS Drinkwater from 858 Rushden Squadron and Sgt Rich from 138 (1st Nottingham) Squadron.
The Junior Leaders course is designed to develop leadership and management skills in young adults through a military fashion, whilst gaining an ILM Level 3Qualification in Leadership and Management. The course takes place over 8 months and is both physically and mentally demanding, it is often regarded as one of the toughest courses for a Cadet to complete, with only 0.002% of cadets graduating from the course.
To gain a highly sought after place on the course candidates first have to pass the selection weekend. Once successful the cadets undertake 8 training weekends, followed by one consolidation weekend and an arduous 10-day test phase.
In between attending the training weekend candidates are required to organise, risk assess and run a fundraising project for the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation.
CWO Drinkwater was inspired to become a Qualified Junior Leader when a Cadet Flight Sergeant on my Squadron completed the course (Junior Leaders Course XV). He said, “Even as a young cadet seeing how much passion he had for the course and how much it developed him not only as a person but as a leader/NCO inspired me. I knew from that point on seeing what he had achieved and what the course entailed that Junior Leaders would be one thing I would aspire to achieve by the time I leave cadets.”
“Surprisingly the most challenging aspect of the course wasn’t the 10-day test phase, which I loved, it was actually the pre-deployment weekend. That weekend was harder because of the stricter timings and the distance you had to travel for each lead. For this stage, we did 5 leads in one day, whereas on the test phase you do either 3 or 4. Along with the distance, the terrain was much harsher to transverse so your body was under more pressure than during the test phase.”
“The most memorable part of the course would’ve been we got ‘attacked’ at night. Luckily I was on Stag Duty so I didn’t have to rush around getting my equipment on for the firefight. What made that moment even better was when we saw the enemy forces in the distance, me and my fellow subordinate on Stag Duty where the ones to shout “STAND TO” and from this point everyone frantically got ready and up onto the wall prepared in a couple of minutes. Then when the enemy contacted our FOB (Forward Operating Base) it was my side that they attacked and once they attacked us the return fire volley from 61 Junior Leader students under the orders of the Flight commander and tac Sergeant was impressive. And all the whilst this was happening Pyrotechnics lit up the area creating a surreal experience that I will never forget.”
CWO Drinkwater added, “You learn a variety of different skills on the Junior Leaders course. Some of the most important skills that I’ll be taking forward is how to be an effective 2IC and how it can be easily integrated with any team whether its an NCO team or a leadership team. Also skills such as time management skills and having set drills/routines are useful, practicing them over and over again until they become second nature so you can be effective with your own personal drills. The skill/attribute of working under intense pressure whilst being assessed has made me more confident and resilient in what I do, what I say, and ultimately be more assertive.”
“If anyone considers doing the Junior Leaders Course-which I highly recommend, you need to have high levels of physical fitness, and if lucky enough to earn a place on the course keep your fitness levels up, so start now! The course couldn’t be further from an attendance course so do the homework and the ILM, practice what you have learned and actively review what you have learned in the theory lessons.”
Sgt Zak Rich was inspired to apply for the gruelling Junior Leaders Course as it is often seen as the most challenging and prestigious of all the Air Cadets courses. He said, “I have enjoyed all of the other camps and courses I have attended and really wanted to challenge myself and prove that I could complete the hardest one successfully. I also want to join one of the armed forces when I finish school and thought the course would help me prepare for my application and maybe give me a small taste of what life in the forces would be like.”
“The hardest part of the entire course was test phase due to the combination of the lack of sleep, continuous exercise and necessity for everything to be done in a tight time frame. The other demanding thing is that you have to recall on all your training from the past 9 months, this can be a method of passing information from 8 months ago or an acronym from 4 months ago, all of it is important. This being said all of the difficulties that came with test phase should be expected as it is a pass or fail test; it wouldn’t feel like such an achievement if it didn’t push you in every way.”
“For me the main memorable moment, apart from being out in the field, was the DZ parade on the last day as this was when we received our DZ patch and become QJL’s. The sense of achievement made it all worth the effort. I’ve learnt so many things over the course of the 9 months from leadership theory and how to apply that to real-world situations whether in a “military” environment, for example in the field with JL or even down at the squadron, and how to apply the same theories with a slightly different tilt to everyday practices and decisions. There is also the high level of field skills that we were taught during phase 1 and put into practice in phase 2 and 3 these are very useful things to know while out on an exercise but unfortunately don’t transfer over to normal everyday life but the thought process and skills that are behind these show a useful way to think about everyday experiences and new tasks or experiences. Finally, the most valuable thing that JL has shown me is that although tasks sometimes seem difficult or impossible, is that it is achievable with a high work ethic, determination and a good team to work with.”
“I would tell a fellow cadet that the course is an amazing experience and teaches you so many skills. It allows you to meet people from around the country who are all amazing cadets and personalities and become your firm friends. It will show you your bounds and push you every weekend. These are some of the amazing things the course gives to you but they don’t come without a lot of effort and work. The JL course takes up a lot of time both on the weekends you are away and those when you are at home completing tasks, preparing your ILM and keeping your fitness levels high. Also, you need to consider whether you can keep up your JL commitment alongside any school or college work, I found this very difficult. Another major thing that is overlooked by most is the physical aspect of the course, there is a fitness requirement before you can be accepted. To combat this you need to be all-round fit and be prepared to go away and strength train your weak points whether that is going on a hike with a backpack or practicing your night navigation skills in order to complete the 9-day test phase. JL is amazing but work and sacrifices need to be made too.”
All scenarios described are simulated with pyrotechnics, no live firing takes place during ‘engagement’ on this course.