861 (Wideopen) Squadron in National Competition to Identify the Top Squadron in the Country
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By Flt Lt James Elliott - 861 (Wideopen) Squadron
The Sir Alan Lees Trophy is a nation-wide competition, which is held annual to find the best Squadron in the country.
The first stage of the competition for 861 Squadron was to be selected as the Durham/Northumberland Wing representative. The Squadron, which has its base in Wideopen, North Tyneside, was selected from 34 other Squadrons within the Wings area which runs from the Scottish border to Hartlepool. 861 then joined 35 other Squadrons in competition for six coveted places in national-level competition.
The next phase of the competition was a formal inspection by Group Captain Steve Harpum RAFR. Group Captain Harpum and his inspection team spent the evening meeting the cadets and finding out more about what makes 861 Squadron special. Having reviewed a formal parade and march-past by the Squadron, Group Captain Harpum then had an opportunity to see the Squadron in action. During his tour of the unit, he saw cadets undergoing flight simulation training, casualty simulation exercises, radio controlled models and a presentation from one of the cadets about how events are organised at 861.
At the end of the inspection, Group Captain Harpum praised the cadets efforts and recognised the work that the adult volunteers put into the Squadron to make it run as efficiently as it does. He said: “861 Squadron has come such a long way in the past five years and it was a pleasure to be able to inspect such a thriving, vibrant Air Cadet Squadron”.
At this stage of the selection process, 861 was up against stiff competition from five other Squadrons from around the North Region area which covers the North of England.
On 24th April, a month after the inspection, 861 was informed by HQ Air Cadets that the Squadron had been selected as the North Region representative for the next phase of the Lees Trophy competition which means that the Squadron is now one of the top six Squadrons in the entire country!
Next, the Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty RAFR, will be coming to visit and inspect 861 (Wideopen) Squadron in June for the next and final phase of the competition which will identify the national winner of the competition.
Squadron Commander, Flight Lieutenant James Elliott, said: “This is a real milestone for 861 Squadron and the cadets and staff have worked incredibly hard to get to this stage of the competition. The Squadron has never represented the Wing let alone the Region in the Lees Trophy competition and I am incredibly proud of their achievement. We are gearing up for the final inspection and I know the Squadron will put on a great show for the Commandant Air Cadets”.
If you would like to get involved with the top performing Air Cadet Squadron in the North of England, visit www.861sqn.org for more information on how to join. The Squadron is open to boys and girls aged 12 (and in Year 8) and above.