Longbenton Air Cadets Celebrate Freedom!
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By Flt Lt G G Richards - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron
Longbenton Air Cadets let their colours fly as they celebrated their Freedom to mark the 74th Anniversary of the Air Training Corps.
The Air Training Corps was formed by Royal Warrant of King George VI on the 5 February 1941 and this year saw a birthday celebration like no other for the Longbenton youngsters.
Last December, the 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron was awarded the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of North Tyneside in recognition of its significant contribution to North Tyneside. It is the highest honour that the council can bestow, celebrating the real difference the Squadron makes to the lives of people in the borough. For the Air Cadets, it means they can let their colours (banner) fly when parading in the borough and have their band perform.
Benton Councillor, Janet Hunter joined the celebration saying “The squadron has been an ever presence in our community but has truly flourished since 2008 culminating in winning the Lees Trophy to be recognised as the best Air Cadet Squadron in the UK! It is a credit to our community.”
North Tyneside MP, Mary Glindon, was on hand to assist with the official enrolment ceremony and present over 20 Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards along with BTEC and Leadership qualifications.
“The young people look so smart and it’s an absolute pleasure to present the qualifications and help welcome new members who can achieve so much as many before them have done at Longbenton,” said Mrs Glindon. “I thank all of the adult volunteer instructors for supporting the young people and wish the Squadron further success in the years ahead,” added the MP.
Cadet George Binfield, 16, of Forest Hall said, "We all gain different skills and qualifications from being an air cadet and have so much fun too. To be the one carrying the Squadron Standard, which represents us and our values, is an honour at the best of time, but to do so and let the colours fly was an incredible feeling as I knew the community values us as air cadets and young people."
Following the awards presentation and enrolments, the youngsters led a ceremonial parade and the squadron band performed its new repertoire named after the Roman God of Freedom – Liber.
Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson "It was humbling to be awarded the Freedom of the Borough because of who we are, what we do and what we have achieved. To see even more achievements be recognised, welcome new members, have our band playing and our colours flying as we celebrate our birthday with our community, was a very special occasion and I thank the community for its show of support.”
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.