A fundraising campaign has been launched by Dorchester Squadron to support their plan to purchase Leadership and Teamwork resources and staff training. “The training resources will enable the staff to deliver proven leadership and teamwork sessions to help develop our cadets.” said the Commanding Officer, Flt Lt Perry Donnelly. “Leadership and teamwork skills are at the heart of a lot of what we do as an organisation. We are looking forward to developing this aspect of training when we have the resources in place and the staff are trained to optimise their use.”
The Squadron has set up a Just Giving Campaign Page and so hopefully it won’t be too long before we can get the resources in place.
On Thursday 27th October, 2016, Cadet Warrant Officer George Timms, of 2182 (Dorchester) Squadron Air Training Corps, assisted the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset, Mr Angus Campbell Esq, during the visit of Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and the Duchess of Cornwall as they visited Poundbury, Dorchester, to unveil the statue of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on Queen Mother Square.
The Lord-Lieutenant received the Royal Party at Dorchester South Train Station soon after 11:00AM on Thursday where Her Majesty greeted dignitaries, including Mayor of Dorchester Tim Harries, and two Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadets for Dorset; including CWO George Timms.
Staff and cadets from 130 (Bournemouth) Squadron, supported by other local units, manned a publicity and recruitment display unit at the recent Bournemouth Air Festival. The Air Cadets section formed part of the RAF Village, which occupied a prime position next to Bournemouth pier.
Despite periods of rain, the show attracted some very large crowds, and there was great interest in Air Cadet activities. All enquiries were recorded and forwarded to the appropriate squadron, and it is hoped that many new staff and cadets will be recruited as a result.
Although the Red Arrows gave their customary immaculate display, the highlight for most of those attending was the final appearance on the South Coast of the Vulcan. After a dramatic display, its departure was greeted with spontaneous applause from the huge crowd.
In the summer of 2014 cadets from Jersey were given the chance to apply, for the first time, a position as Lieutenant Governors Cadet. The position would require cadets to help His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey with Royal Visits, special military parades and other important events. This would be awarded to the six of the Islands best cadets, applications were invited from the Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force, Combined Cadet Force and of course the Air Training Corps.
Three cadets from 7 Overseas (Jersey) Squadron made it through to the interview stage. After an anxious few weeks, news came through that all three of the cadets had been successful in their interview and were now officially Lieutenant Governors Cadet’s alongside three other cadets from the CCF.
A special reception was held at Government House and Sgt Nanneke Boxall, Sgt Jean-Luc Heath and Sgt James Van Neste were presented their awards by His Excellency General Sir John McColl KCB CBE DSO surrounded by their families. Sgt. Van Neste said “it will be a fantastic opportunity to represent my squadron as one of these few Lieutenant Governors Cadet’s”. Sgt. Heath said “it will be a huge honour to help the Lieutenant Governors Cadet in this prestigious position.”
When initial planning for this expedition started the aim was to provide cadets with the environment to develop personal and team skills and to take them out of their “comfort zone”. With the emphasis being on Adventure Training one of the goals would be the reaching the top of Mount Fan Si Pan (3143m), the highest mountain in Indo-China.. The A/T activities would be mentally and physically challenging and, combined with the experience of visiting a totally different country and culture, would hopefully create life changing experiences for all.
So it was on 15th October 2014 the team of cadets and staff from 2391 (Parkstone) Squadron, ATC, set off on what was to be an extremely varied and energetic expedition to Vietnam.
After a long flight, the team arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and hit the ground running. With the obligatory visits to the Re-Unification Hall and museums giving the Vietnamese view of the “American” war taking up most of our first day in Vietnam we were all ready to head out into the Mekong Delta for the start of our more strenuous activities.
Our next two days were spent joining the locals canoeing and cycling around the Mekong, visiting floating markets and crawling through the Cu Chi tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the “American War”. The tunnels proved that the Vietnamese, while being small in stature, are extremely fit with our team unable to keep up with them and suffering for trying.
Five days in South Vietnam and it was time to move to the North and prepare for the more strenuous part of the expedition. We were met at the airport by our interpreter and guide who had arranged for us to visit the Mausoleum and also the home of the founder of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh.
To get to the highest mountain in Indo-China, Mount Fansipan in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, requires an overnight adventure on an old French railway system from Hanoi to Lao Cai and then bus ride to Sa Pa, an old French colonial town near the base of the mountain. The
town of Sa Pa lies at an altitude of about 1500 meters (4921 feet) above sea level and is a perfect base to acclimatise before the three day trek up Fan Si Pan.
When the time came for the ascent of “the mountain” there was some trepidation amongst the team as only two of the members had been on this sort of trip before. As the sun came up the team headed out of Sa Pa to meet up with our mountain guide and porters carrying all of our food, cooking facilities and camping equipment.
The start of the climb was fairly easy and by lunchtime we were at 2200m having moved through streams and rivers, over extremely large boulders and through tropical bamboo forests. We had another 500m to climb by nightfall so it was only a sort stop. As the team were becoming more acclimatised to the altitude we were able to move fairly quickly on the easier sections of the route but unfortunately sections of the route were becoming more difficult and then it started to rain! With the light failing fast we were just able to make the 2900m camp site before total darkness. Everyone was cold and wet but all had plenty of dry clothing and after a very substantial meal everyone was in bed and asleep before 2000hrs.
Next morning we were up at daylight and after breakfast were ready for the final ascent to the summit. With only 350m to climb we were hoping for a less strenuous clime than the day before. Unfortunately an hour into the climb we were hit by the remnants of a typhoon that had hit South East Asia the previous week and suddenly we were in monsoon weather. The track became flooded and the mud deeper. After a quick assessment of the conditions underfoot it was decided that unless conditions got any worse we would attempt the last short distance to the top. We made it!
Unfortunately the peak was in the clouds and visibility was minimal so we quickly took some team photos and headed back down. With two of the cadets suffering from mild AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) we had to be very careful on the descent and superb teamwork kicked in with everyone making that extra effort to make sure everyone was safe.
We arrived back at the next overnight stop at 2800m as darkness descended. Time to change into our last dry clothes, check out the casualties (all okay) and then another early night; all in bed by 1930hrs.
Next morning we were given the option of the hard or easy route! We took the easy route wondering afterwards how difficult the other route may have been finding out later that we were right to get down the way we did as the weather deteriorated again. We arrived back in Sa Pa just after lunchtime and all headed for hot showers and warm drinks feeling highly elated that we had completed the ascent of Fan Si Pan in the most atrocious and trying conditions.
By the following morning everyone had recovered enough to visit some of the local villages and markets before taking another overnight train journey back to Hanoi. We arrived back in Hanoi at 0500hrs and spent the next hour walking round an almost deserted city. After a very welcome breakfast we headed to Ha Long Bay for a few days kayaking and swimming around the South China Sea. We finally landed on Cat Ba Island the largest island in Ha Long Bay where we spent time trekking across the National Park as well as visiting ruins of old French military emplacements and a North Vietnamese underground hospital. A morning was also spent rock climbing on some some Grade 4 and 5 climbs that proved challenging but satisfying. There was also time for some R&R, mainly water sports and shopping.
The time came where we had to leave Vietnam and return home. After 16 days of Vietnamese food it was good to finally have some European food again.
The team have much to remember. They have the Mekong, the mountains, Ha Long Bay, the people, the culture and much more. They have all learned a lot about themselves and each other as well as the people and culture of what is really a Third World country.
The most important skill that came from this expedition was teamwork. It was at times inspiring to see how individuals supported each other throughout the expedition. It wasn’t all plain sailing though, with individuals fighting their own personal challenges too. The whole experience of visiting a different country and culture was eye opening for most of the cadets and also some of the staff, and realising how the quality of life is so much better here in the UK. Hopefully some if not all of the cadets will now have a desire to travel and experience life around the world.
Our thanks must go to the Ulysses Trust and the RAF Charitable Trust as well as the Connaught Trust, the Scarman Foundation and John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation for help and support in funding this trip.
In the summer of 2014 four cadets from Jersey (three from 7 Overseas (Jersey) Squadron and one from Victoria College CCF) embarked on a two week Air Cadet Pilot Scholarship in Dundee, Scotland. During their time with Tayside Aviation they each flew 12 hours in a Grob 115 Heron, an ex-Royal Navy elementary flight training aircraft, leading to their very first solo flight. The Jersey Branch of RAFA supported the cadets to undertake in this once in a lifetime experience. Cdt Sgt James Van Neste said “The flying experience has hugely benefited us, especially with our applications and future ambitions to join Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, in various aviation related roles”.
An average day consisted of around 2 hours of flight instruction with the rest of the day studying ground theory, air law and air traffic protocol. Cdt Sgt Jean-Luc Heath said “This required hours of hard work and dedication to make sure they were able to pass the solo theory exam, in order to be passed ‘fit to fly’. Our multi-national instructors were highly competent and were enthusiastic to help us with our limited flight experience”. The second week consisted of flying circuits with very little input from the instructors, showing how far they had all come during their limited time in Scotland proving that you don’t have to have much experience to succeed in something you are passionate about.
Cdt Sgt Harry Lewis said ”Going solo was the greatest thrill everyone had ever experienced, the thrill of being up in the air with no one in the right hand seat was unlike anything else. The experience has given us valuable skills such as working under extreme pressure and multitasking. This has been such a privilege as we are part of an exclusive club of solo air cadet pilots, as out of 44,000 cadets only 190 are awarded this accolade each year. Again, this would not have been possible without the support and funding of the Jersey Branch RAFA and their volunteers”.
Lord Lieutenant for Dorset Mr Alistair Campbell attended 2185 (Wareham) Sqn to his cadet’s unit. Whilst on the squadron he presented a Gold DEAS Award to the Cadet Flight Sgt Alec Cottrell, Lord Lieutenants ATC Cadet, and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal to Sgt (ATC) Martin Hall. The Welfare Committee provided refreshments and parents and other guests attended the evening.
On Sunday 21st September 2014, 171 (Christchurch) Squadron proudly took place in the 74th RAFA Battle of Britain Parade.
The parade to the Priory Church was led by the Boscombe Band of the Salvation Army, followed smartly by members of RAFA, RNA, Wrens, The Not Forgotten Association, Veterans, Christchurch and Highcliffe Royal British Legion plus, of course, 171 (Christchurch) Sqn.
The Reverend Canon Raymond Hubble, conducting the service, said: “We are gathered here today to remember in the presence of God the victory given to us in the Battle of Britain and to pray that we may have such devotion to duty that neither the loving kindness of God, nor the heroism of those who fought, may have been in vain.”
A RAFA dedication was read by Cpl. Bramall, 171 (Christchurch) Sqn. saying “In friendship and in service one to another, we are pledged to keep alive the memory of those of all nations who died in the Royal Air Force and in the air forces of the Commonwealth. In their name we give ourselves to this noble cause. Proudly and thankfully, we will remember them.”
Hundreds of Allied and German airmen were killed as the Battle of Britain raged in the skies over England during the summer and autumn of 1940. RAF Fighter Command successfully repelled Germany’s attempts to gain air superiority of the UK.
After the service the parade made its way back to the Mayor’s Parlour, where Christchurch Mayor Cllr. Denise Jones took the salute, along with MP Christopher Chope.
On the 12th of August, band members from the 7 Overseas (Jersey) Sqn Air Training Corps were introduced to the visiting unit 948 Haverfordwest and City of St David’s Squadron. They were privileged enough to be able to train with their Band, where they were taught several of the Band’s drum solos, stick techniques, songs and eventually how to march and play with the entire Band. After several days of training, the Band from the Air Training Corps was invited to join Haverfordwest in performing in the Battle of Flowers Moonlight Parade.
For many 7 Overseas Band members this was the first time they had performed with a band in public, at the end of the experience several band members wanted to share their opinions of the experience. Cadet Chalmers-Hunt, 7 Overseas Band member said ‘For me in particular it was my first time performing in public, let alone with a Band the size of Haverfordwest. On the night of the performance the sound created was incredible and atmosphere was ecstatic, I had a lot of fun and hope the Haverfordwest Squadron come back next year!’.
Corporal Van Neste, said ‘It was nice to meet all the cadets from Wales and to be given an opportunity to play at the Battle of flowers – something we had never done before’. As a result of taking part in this major parade, two members of the band received their Drummers badge. Cadet Ribeiro, one of the members who received their badge, said ‘Each cadet was extremely welcoming and patient when teaching us their routine, which was long and complex. I am very grateful that we had this opportunity, as without this amazing experience I would not have been able to receive my Drummers badge’.