Wideopen Air Cadets Celebrate 75 Years of the Air Training Corps
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By Flt Lt J H Elliott - 861 (Wideopen) Squadron
861 (Wideopen) Squadron have been celebrating the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Air Training Corps this weekend as part of national celebrations to mark this significant milestone in the organisations history.
The Air Training Corps, a national youth organisation based on and supported by the Royal Air Force and the first of its type in the world is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
Formed on the 5th of February 1941, the organisation now comprises of 43,000 cadets aged 12-19 years old and 11,000 volunteer adult staff from all genders, race, religion and creed. 861 (Wideopen) Squadron is one of one thousand Air Cadet Squadrons located up and down the land and has been serving the community of Wideopen, Seaton Burn and the surrounding area since 1977.
As part of the national 75th anniversary celebrations, cadets and staff from 861 (Wideopen) Squadron paraded at St Columba's Church in Wideopen to recognise the service of the organisation in the local community and raise awareness of its work with the young people of North Tyneside. The Squadron has donated a painted Squadron crest to the church which will hung prominently in the church as formal recognition of the close ties between the church and the Squadron.
The Reverend Geoffrey Short OBE, St Columba's Church Vicar and Squadron Chaplain to 861 Squadron said: "I was so delighted to see such a good turn out from the cadets and staff from 861 (Wideopen) Squadron to celebrate the formation of the Air Training Corps. The ATC is a wonderful organisation that offers so much to the young people it serves and I have had a fantastic time working as the Squadron Chaplain. We were absolutely thrilled to bless the Squadron crest and we will display it with pride at St Columb's"
Flight Lieutenant James Elliott, Officer Commanding No.861 (Wideopen) Squadron, delivered a presentation highlighting the Squadrons many achievements over the last "The last twelve months have been exceptionally busy for 861 Squadron and I am proud to see the unit continue to build on its success and grow both in numbers and capability. A lot has changed in the 75 year history of the Air Training Corps but our fundamental aims have not; we are here to promote an interest in aviation and the RAF, provide training that will be useful to our young people whether they join the forces or not and develop future leaders and good citizens. I am also extremely proud to continue our close relationship with our local church at St Columba's where the Squadrons crest will now be on display for all to see"
Cadet Corporal Tom Waters, aged 15 of Ponteland, said: "The ATC has been absolutely brilliant fun for me and I have learnt so much since I have joined. I have flown in aircraft, fired target rifles and competed in loads of different competitions. It's fantastic fun and I encourage all of my friends to join".
861 Squadron meets twice a week every Monday and Thursday, 7.30-9.30pm at its Headquarters opposite the Wideopen Library. The Squadron is open to all young people aged 12 (and in Year 8 at school) and 17 regardless of gender. More information on the Squadron and its activities is available online at www.861sqn.org or on the Squadrons Facebook page (search 861 (Wideopen) Squadron).