As Christmas approaches, it is time to reflect on what happened here at 306 Runcorn Air Cadets during 2017. Yet again and without question, it has been a very busy and exciting year with a huge number of challenging and varied activities being undertaken.
We enjoyed our visit to Liverpool Airport's Air Traffic Control Tower, we did well at Wing Training Day and the way you presented yourselves for the Rememberance Parade was exemplary and we are extremely proud of you all. We have recently got our Website up and running which includes monthly Air Rec quizzes and up to date News for our Squadron and Wing.
These events only happened due to the dedicated, enthusiastic, and hardworking Adult Volunteers, who balance home life and work commitments with cadet activities.
Looking forward to 2018: A TOP SECRET exciting Project to be revealed early 2018, Annual Camps, Wing Training Day, The DoE walks have already started to be planned and there are many other exciting activities planned.
Don't get lost, squashed or mashed....
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
To all members of the RAF Air Cadets,
As we approach the end of another busy year, I wish to pay tribute to all staff, volunteers and cadets for their enduring and positive approach to the many challenges we confront as we seek to deliver the best possible cadet and staff experience and maintain our reputation for excellence in the world of uniformed youth organisations.
There is no doubt that it has been a difficult year as we have seen the implementation of a new Cadet Forces Commission and the associated re-branding of the Organisation to ensure that all uniformed volunteers display the same insignia. If we had known how difficult this process would be, I am sure we would have approached it differently but, in the absence of precedent, we all did the best we could to navigate complex legal and procurement issues to achieve our goal. It took far longer than we’d hoped and it was far more difficult than anyone envisaged and I know it has knocked the confidence of many in our ability to manage change effectively. I apologise again for the stress and confusion caused by the various delays and mixed messaging and hope that we can now put this difficult exercise behind us and move forward as one team. I genuinely believe this is a positive change for our Organisation and that we can develop Terms & Conditions that are better suited to volunteering in a military Cadet Force than the regulations that pertain to Regulars and deployable Reservists. And for those who fear that the new Queen’s Commission lacks the status of the former commission, you need only read the foreword by CAS in our latest edition of Air Cadet magazine to know just how much he and the rest of the RAF value their Cadet Force. We remain very much part of the RAF Family and our reputation and profile is as high as it has ever been.
Another key challenge has been the on-going glider recovery programme but the news is definitely improving and we now have VGSs operating at Syerston, Topcliffe, Little Rissington, Upavon and Tern Hill, with Kirknewton due to accept recovered aircraft in the New Year. Despite challenges with access to gliding and AEF, hundreds of cadets have started their aviation training, with blue and bronze badges being achieved in every Region and in the CCF, with encouraging signs of silver and gold achievement, too. Over 100 cadets have secured flying scholarships and others have been able to experience aviation at civilian clubs cleared by 2FTS. The Aviation Musters this year at RAF Benson and RAF Topcliffe were hugely successful in getting over 2000 cadets and volunteers airborne and there is an increasing sense that aviation is getting back to the heart of the cadet syllabus.
Whilst aviation is important, it does not define all that we do and we have had another amazing year delivering a very broad syllabus of cadet activity. Sport, road-marching, D of E, music, drill, target shooting, AT, field-craft, first aid, STEM, camps, BTECs, aircraft recce and modelling, leadership, teamwork and communications have all played their part in helping cadets achieve their potential, develop self-confidence, and enhance their employment prospects. None of this would be possible without the selfless commitment of the adult volunteers who take time to qualify themselves and then pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation. I pay tribute here, too, to the Staff Cadets, who have stepped up to take greater responsibility for delivering the cadet experience to younger cadets and are proving an invaluable resource to hard-pressed volunteers. The Civilian Committees who work hard behind the scenes to support each and every Sqn, and the network of volunteer chaplains also deserve mention for their contribution to our work. It is very much a team effort and I wish to place on record my sincere appreciation for all that you do, permanent staff or volunteer, uniformed or not, commissioned or non-commissioned. You all do your bit and together you deliver an incredible amount of high quality, safe and effective training that provides our young people with a springboard to their future, whatever that may be.
Once again, I have taken every opportunity to get out and about to visit ATC and CCF (RAF) activities around the UK and I have attended a wide range of activities to ensure I understand the challenges faced at grass roots level, but also the daily achievements of cadets and staff, many of which have literally moved me to tears of pride. Whether that is a pitch-perfect performance by the National Choir or Bands, the awesome final parade at the Drill & Ceremonial Camp, the incredible week of Aerospace activities at Syerston or the many Wg and Sqn events I have been able to visit, I am left humbled and overwhelmed by the commitment and dedication of our staff and the unlimited talents of our young people. We have deployed some of our best cadets overseas as ambassadors on IACE, or overseas expeditions, and we have enabled some high calibre young people to represent us in the Houses of Parliament or briefing Royalty, and they have all done us proud.
The New Year brings RAF100
I expect that theme to continue next year as we gear up to support our parent Service as it celebrates its Centenary. RAF100 promises many opportunities for cadets and volunteers to get involved in national and local events aimed at celebrating the RAF’s many achievements, commemorating the past, and inspiring the future. I look forward to cadets and staff joining the RAF across the UK, augmenting the footprint of Regulars, Reservists and Veterans and doing our best to support the Centenary with parades, celebrations, themed camps, overseas expeditions and fundraising. We can make a big difference to the reach of our parent Service and I know you all stand ready and willing to help.
I close by sending my heartfelt best wishes to everyone in the RAF Air Cadets for a peaceful and enjoyable festive season, hopefully spent with friends and family albeit I have no doubt that many of you will be working. Take time to relax and recharge the batteries as I can promise you that 2018 is going to be another busy and exciting year. I am proud to command the RAF Air Cadets and I hope you all share that sense of pride in belonging to a world class uniformed youth organisation which, despite its many challenges, delivers exceptional opportunities to exceptional young people. We are a Force for Good in this world and I for one take enormous pride in being associated with the RAF Air Cadets and all who support our organisation. Thank you all for what you do and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Comdt RAF Air Cadets