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A-Ir Right Ole Lees Up !

2013-12-28 09:20:07
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By Flt Lt G G Richardson - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron

Air Cadets from Longbenton were joined by the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, Mr. George Scott as they celebrated their win of the Lees Trophy to be recognised as the best air cadet squadron in the UK.

As a fitting celebration the young people and adult volunteers celebrated in style with a traditional, formal Dining-In Night and enjoyed evening of fine dining and light entertainment.

Dining-In Nights are traditionally used to welcome new members of the Squadron and to acknowledge outgoing members. This time it was also used to acknowledge the squadron's latest success, its past successes and ring in a new and exciting year.

After a welcoming soft drink reception the guests were served a palate-pleasing four-course meal before getting to the speeches. The Squadron Commander, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson, spoke about the fantastic achievements attained during 2013 before toasting future successes.

In particular he told about his pride in the impressive growth and development of the unit over the last five years, culminating in the Squadron being recognised as the top squadron out of 1000 across the UK.  

"I am exceptionally proud to lead Longbenton Squadron, but more so to know and work with an amazing group of young people and adults. We won the Lees Trophy because of who we are. We enjoy so many different opportunities, from flying and gliding, to assault courses and sports and have gained so many skills and qualifications and continue to work toward earning more. We make mistakes and learn from these to move forward, and this is an important aspect of our training.” “We have shared so many incredible moments and these will last as memories, with our place in history cemented by winning the Lees Trophy,” said Gary.

More than half the young people attending the squadron gained a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2013 at Bronze, Silver and Gold level and the youngsters visited locations throughout the world as part of their training and development. So where will the squadron go next?

“Next year, I'm sure, will see many more memories created and achievements gained as we move forward together. It’s an absolute pleasure to be a part of the hopes, dreams and ambitious plans of our young people, who have helped to devise our Squadron Development Plan for the next two years. I know we’ll see so many of our young people and staff gain internationally recognised qualifications. We have youngsters involved in an Engineering and Aerospace Programme with Newcastle College as well as Young Enterprise which will see them gain A Level qualifications and we are finalising our Pyrenees expedition plans for next summer.” "We all look to the future with great optimism; knowing that we are heading in the right direction," said Gary.

The High Sheriff remarked on how impressed he was with 2344 Squadron and how valuable the Cadet movement as a whole is, not just to the individuals involved but to society in general. He enjoyed chatting with the young people and finding out about how being an air cadet has improved their life chances. He also thanked the adult volunteers for their gift of time in supporting the community and its young people.

Cadet Oscar Poad, 15 of Forest Hall, said; "I love going to the Air Cadets because there’s so much to do and so many amazing opportunities! It was good to be able to celebrate all of those opportunities and laugh about the funny things that have happened too and to share it with the High Sheriff was great!"

The Squadron recently paraded the Lees Trophy in front of 51,000 people at St James’ Park.

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For more information please visit the Squadron website

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