Outstanding North East Air Cadets Rewarded at Boulmer
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By Flt Lt G G Richards - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron
Three prize winning Air Cadets from the north east were welcomed at RAF Boulmer and rewarded with a flight on a search and rescue Sea King helicopter.
Bridget Donaldson, James Nealings and Hardit Parmar were hosted for lunch in the Officers’ Mess by the Station Commander, Group Captain Mark Coleman, before changing into flying suits and taking to the air with personnel from ‘A’ Flight, 202 Squadron. All three cadets have won national awards, and RAF Boulmer wished to mark their achievements.
In 2014, Bridget, (19), was presented with the Dacre Brooch, the highest award any female cadet can achieve, and awarded annually to the one cadet deemed the best in the country. Bridget is a member of 404 (Morpeth) Squadron and the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Northumberland. Among her numerous achievements are the gaining of her private pilot’s licence after winning a Royal Air Force Association Flying Scholarship, representing the Air Cadets Force in a diplomatic exchange with Ghana, and teaching students how to fly Vigilant T1 aircraft in her capacity as a Grade 1 Flying Instructor.
She said: “I feel extremely privileged to have been one of the last cadets to fly in a Sea King as the aircraft means so much to so many people. It has saved so many lives over the years.”
James, (20), a former member of 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron, was last year awarded the John Cunningham Bust. This prestigious prize is presented to the best pilot in the Air Cadet organisation, following many hours of flying and assessment. James has also obtained his private pilot’s licence, and maintains contact with Air Cadets in his role as a civilian gliding instructor.
He said: “Although I am now too old to continue as a cadet, I enjoy giving something back to the fantastic organisation which has given me so much.”
Hardit, (20), joined 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron in 2009, and last year was selected as one of nine finalists for the CVQO’s Duke of Westminster award. CVQO is an educational charity that changes the lives of young people by giving members of uniformed youth organisations the chance to gain vocational qualifications, and the award identifies the best CVQO cadets across the UK. As a finalist, Hardit joined a three week educational expedition to South Africa, something he said: “was a once in a lifetime experience”.
Hardit added: “Becoming an Air Cadet gives young adults amazing opportunities to gain lots of valuable experience that can’t often be taught in a classroom environment. Even for those that aren’t considering a future in the military, the Air Cadet Force still provides a large spectrum of activities ranging from overseas expeditions to first aid and even sporting competitions.”
The three young guests spent about an hour in the air, as the air crew carried out a training exercise. Fine weather gave them a bird’s eye view of the north east, and the chance to talk to the flying personnel.
Group Captain Coleman said: “When you consider there are some 50 000 Air Cadets nationally, all three cadets visiting RAF Boulmer have demonstrated phenomenal talent, and deserved to receive recognition from their nearest RAF Station. They are an exemplary advert for Air Cadet Squadrons in the North East, and show the amazing opportunities and challenges that exist for young people with the Royal Air Force.”
For more information please visit the Squadron website