Every year nearly 56,000 air cadets and volunteer staff take part in exciting events all over the UK. There are over 1,000 squadrons across the UK run by volunteer staff who want to make a positive difference to their communities by providing a modern, dynamic, sustainable air-minded youth organisation of choice that offers fun and challenging opportunities for both young people and volunteers. The Air Cadets is parented by the Royal Air Force and exists to provide adventurous opportunities and good citizenship to young people in their communities.
What are the young people getting up to at 425 (Aldridge) Squadron RAF Air Cadets - and why did they join? "I joined cadets 2 years ago", said Cadet Emmerson "at the start of my second year at secondary school. I was a shy and irritable child with hair that reached my shoulders. Two years later I stand tall and proud, confident with aspirations to do more, a policy I am trying to pass on to people in the position I was once in with a passion. It has made me grow up and come out of my shell. It is the beginning of a larger adventure, one I don`t think anyone would want to miss".
The Air Cadets are not a recruiting organisation for the Royal Air Force. The volunteers who give up two nights a week and their weekends for local young people are not interested in anything but young people`s potential in Walsall. Equality, diversity and inclusivity is a central part of the Air Cadets` ethic.
"The cadet experience is open to anyone" explained Flight Lieutenant Laura Horobin. "So whatever a young person`s background, religion, gender or ability then providing they are aged between 12 when beginning school year 8 and 17 years old they can be a cadet".
Aside from flying, sports, adventure training and target shooting there are many activities for young people to get stuck in. Cadet Tatton wanted to join the Squadron band. "Joining the 425 Squadron band was one of the best things I have done since I have been in cadets" he said. "I have made new friendships and strengthened others. I had wanted to play the snare drum in the previous Remembrance Day parade but I wasn`t able to because there wasn`t a free space. This year, when the offer came about, there was no way I would decline it. On the first night that I picked up those drumsticks I was instantly in love. Immediately I persuaded my parents to buy me a drum so that I could improve on my skills whilst at home. I attended a band practice session every week up until Remembrance Sunday. This year, on Remembrance Sunday my good friend Cadet Emmerson and I were both extremely nervous as it was our first Remembrance Parade with the band in Aldridge. Thankfully, everything went smoothly but I was out of step a few times but I don`t think that anybody noticed when we got back at the Aldridge Community Centre!"
RAF College Cranwell is a busy RAF Station in the heart of Lincolnshire with a long and distinguished history dating back to it`s foundation as a Royal Navy Training Establishment in 1916. It was the world`s first Air Academy and today it continues to select and train the next generation of officers and aircrew. "I`ve recently been on a training camp at RAF Cranwell explained Cadet Middleton "where I did numerous activities such as flying, rock climbing, drill, uniform and room inspection, bowling and many more. I was only there for a week, which felt like a couple of hours, but it was one of the most beneficial weeks of my life. This is because I learned that it doesn`t matter where you are - it`s the people whom you are with that matters. I met some of the best friends I could ever imagine. There`s a saying: "You can walk outside and find pigeons but if you`re looking for eagles it`s going to take you a while". This relates to my camp at RAF Cranwell because it took me a while before I was able to meet so many people I get along with but, at RAF Cranwell, all it took was writing my name down".
The Air Cadets encourage young people to volunteer their time to support the local community. "I enjoy volunteering" said Cadet Hill. "What I love about the Air Cadets is that it supports the local community. This is important to me. I also volunteer for the RSPB at Sandwell Valley Nature Reserve . It feels good to know my work will help to inspire others to take measures to save our wildlife and the volunteering work really helps to empower me and build my self confidence".
Air Cadets https://www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets
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