Council Bestows Freedom of the Borough to Longbenton Air Cadets!
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By Flt Lt G G Richards - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron
In recognition of their significant contribution to North Tyneside, at a special ceremony held last night (December 16), North Tyneside Council awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Borough to 2344 Longbenton Air Cadets Squadron.
It is the highest honour that the council can bestow, celebrating contributions of organisations that have made a real difference to the lives of people in the borough.
In recent years recipients have included DFDS Seaways, Whitley Bay FC, Girlguiding North Tyneside, Alan Shearer, music legend Sting and HMS Tyne. Greggs the Bakers were also receiving the civil honour alongside the Longbenton youngsters.
Following the ceremony, North Tyneside Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn said: "Greggs and Longbenton Squadron thoroughly deserve this recognition - they've had great success and many achievements while based here in North Tyneside.
"The Air Cadets is a thriving organisation for young people, and the whole Squadron, both leaders and cadets, should be thanked for all they have accomplished for themselves and for our community. "Greggs, which originates from the area, needs no introduction; it has bakeries nationwide, employing many thousands of people, and its charitable foundation gives more than a million pounds to worthy causes each year.
After presenting the two organisations with the Freedom of the Borough scrolls, the council's Deputy Chair, Councillor Gary Bell added: "It was my honour to host tonight's event and celebrate the outstanding work of Greggs and Longbenton Air Cadets. Congratulations to them both."
Cadet Jordan Workman, 16, of Longbenton said, "I think it's amazing that the Council has recognised our achievements and what we do. It's good to know that young people are valued by the community for doing well and achieving in their own free time. We all feel very proud. I love being at Longbenton Squadron because the activities we do are amazing and the opportunities to do them are nowhere else."
Since 2009, the Longbenton Squadron has grown from six to over 50 young people, aged 12 to 20, parading twice a week.
Last year they beat a thousand other squadrons to be awarded the prestigious Lees Trophy as the top cadet squadron in the UK. Many of the young people have gained awards and achievements including flying and gliding scholarships and many more have been successful in sporting events.
Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson "I sincerely thank North Tyneside Council for recognising the work we do within the community. The sheer joy that our activities and the feast of achievements bring has been marked by such an occasion which is exceptionally humbling."
Cadets from 2344 Squadron have been chosen to be the Lord Lieutenant's Cadet for Tyne and Wear for four successive years and another was the top female cadet 2013 in the North of England.
The Squadron band has played at many community activities including Remembrance Days, VIP events and the greatest honour of all - performing for Her Majesty The Queen when she opened the new Tyne Tunnel.
Longbenton Squadron is currently open to new members in Year 8 and above. If you're up for a challenge then visit squadron at www.2344.org.uk.