Treble Win for 861 Squadron
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By Flight Lieutenant James Elliott - 861 (Wideopen) Squadron
High flying Air Cadets from Wideopen are celebrating a historic achievement after winning three trophies for excellence in less than seven days!
861 (Wideopen) Squadron has been selected as the number one Squadron in Durham/Northumberland Wing for the first time in its 37 year history by winning the Lindersfarne Trophy. The Squadron beat off stiff competition from the 34 other Air Cadet Squadrons in the North East, all competing for the same award to come out on top! Each year, each Squadron in the Wing is carefully assessed against strict inspection criteria and 861 was identified as the top unit for 2013/14 for its overall performance.
One of the key parts of the inspection is the Squadrons performance during its Wing Commanders Inspection Parade where the cadets show off their drill and ceremonial skills to a senior RAF officer. Wideopen Squadron scooped the award for the top parade in 2013/14 scoring an impressive 96% against the demanding inspection criteria. Again, 861 Squadron has never won this award before and was presented with the Crofton Trophy.
Cadet Forces Adult Volunteer, Sergeant (ATC) Susan Gault, had the honour of collecting both the Lindersfarne and Crofton Trophies at the Wings annual awards evening held this year in Gateshead City Library. Regional Commandant (North), Group Captain Steve Harpum presented the trophies to Sergeant Gault. After receiving the awards on behalf of the Squadron, she said: “I was absolutely delighted to be presented with the Lindersfarne and Crofton Trophies at the awards evening – both awards demonstrate just how far 861 has come in the last few years and how successful we are now”.
Shortly after the awards night, the cadets took part in a gruelling Skill at Arms Competition at RAF Boulmer where they demonstrated their proficiency on the L98A2 Cadet General Purpose Rifle through assessed weapon handling sessions and live firing on the stations range. The team of four cadets won the day and were presented with the Wing Skill at Arms Trophy which will join the Lindersfarne and Crofton trophies back at the Squadron. Team Leader for the Skill at Arms Competition, Cadet Sergeant Joshua McAree, said: “The cadets have worked really hard to win the competition today and it just goes to show how a little preparation before the competition can lead to victory on the day – they put in a great performance and I am really pleased we won. Another first for 861!”.
Squadron Boss, Flight Lieutenant James Elliott, said: “All three of these awards demonstrate just how well the Squadron is doing and how far we have come in the last five years. The Lindersfarne Trophy in particular demonstrates that we are offering a fantastic and varied experience to our cadets. To be identified as the top unit in Durham/Northumberland is a huge achievement that all of the cadets and staff can be extremely proud of”.
861 (Wideopen) Squadron is recruiting now! If you are aged 12-17 years and would like to join the Air Cadets to get involved in some amazing, life-changing activities, take a look at the Squadrons website at www.861sqn.org and find out how to join us. We are also recruiting new Adult Staff aged 20 years and above!