A Commanding Officer’s view of the work your Squadron has done over the last year…
This year has been one of great change in both the staff team and the make-up of the cadet body of the Squadron. I wanted to take some time out of planning next year to give you a 50 000 foot view of our achievements over the last 12 months.
Achievements in 2017
First of all, we’ve achieved a lot in 2017! We have again, for the second year running, had a senior cadet accepted for the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE), against stiff competition in the whole country.
This year CWO Morgan Pether was selected by HQ RAFAC to visit Australia as part of the UK’s contingent.
Cadets from the Squadron also supported the new RAF Scampton air show during the summer. Air Cadets are a vital part of this work, and air shows throughout the country wouldn’t be able to operate without our volunteers.
RAF Scampton is the home of the Red Arrows. Our staff even managed to arrange a picture for just our Squadron’s cadets in front of something red!!! …
As you can see, the cadets found the high jinx funny! They did get to see a lot of the Red Arrows too…
Sgt Esther Taylor also took a contingent to the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford. This camp uses over one thousand Air Cadets to organise the week’s festivities. The cadets had a great time, and we’re looking forward to a bumper Squadron attendance at 2018’s event.
We also experienced success in the sporting arena this year. We have been pushing fitness on Squadron more than ever. Sport helps people improve their fitness for joining the forces and civilian services, but also in taking part in other activities such as adventure training and sports trials.
The Squadron achieved two Silver and one Bronze awards at Wing Athletics this year thanks to the efforts of CI Keith Smith who is in charge of sports, and CI Jordan Bembridge who is also a sports leader.
Cadet Flight Sergeant Melissa Doody also achieved a great success, in representing not just the Squadron or Wing, but Region, in Hockey.
We’ve also taken part in two road marches this year. The 2 day, 25 mile total, RAF Cosford short route being the first of the year. Cadets who have previously gone to the Waendel road march, and a couple of extra people, came along for the ride and found the route challenging but fun.
Marching in a squad for miles a day with only a couple of breaks of 10 minutes each doesn’t sound like fun – but the fact you’re doing it in a team, and you keep each other going no matter what, not to mention sing the occasional risque song, make it worth while! Oh, and you get a shiny medal!
You also get to meet senior officers. We had the good fortune to speak to Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant Air Cadets, and now President of the RAF Walking and Road Marching Association (RAFWARMA).
Cadets and staff got chance to have a picture with our ‘Boss’, and staff had chance to talk to the Air Commodore in the mess during the evening.
The Squadron then also later in the year started to introduce the next set of younger cadets to road marching by taking part in the Winter WARMA road march near Sandbach, Cheshire. This short route is a good introduction, even if a little (!) muddy.
We also have our first pilot on Squadron! Cadet Warrant Officer Morgan Pether achieved his Silver Glider Pilot’s wings by completing a solo flight at RAF Syerston toward the end of this year. He hopes to become a member of staff on that gliding Squadron eventually.
There have been many other personal achievements by our cadets that I just couldn’t fit on here. A very well done to everyone, and keep it up for 2018! You make us all very proud.
The intake system to recruit new cadets is now very effectively bedded in and has an over 80% retention rate. When I started four years ago, the retention rate of new cadets until they finish initial training was 33%.
The make-up of the cadet body is changing. Our cadets average age is now around 2 years younger than it was 4 years ago. This is in part due to the joining age being reduced to 12, but also to us specifically targeting new year 8 students for recruitment, in order to ensure we retain them until at least age 15/16.
With (massively) increased exam pressures being felt by cadets, we’re seeing more cadets leaving during year 11 rather than year 13 due to studies than ever before. As a result we have very few cadets above age 16 compared with four years ago.
This has meant we have had to step up our efforts in developing our younger cadets in to the leaders of tomorrow. Our Corporals are now much younger than they might have been in previous years, yet the quality of new NCOs such as they is increasing, not being lowered.
This is due to the change in how potential NCOs are trained, with more effort being put in to pre-promotion training.
The new Progressive Training Syllabus has also helped with this. Now, instead of just advanced badges in some areas (the Gold badge), we now have Blue, Bronze and Silver levels too.
This has meant we can now at Squadron for the first time award Blue Leadership badges and Blue Communications badges. We have had two complete the leadership badge in 2017 with dozens partially complete it, and they will complete in the new year.
We can now also offer Bronze Cyber security awareness courses at Squadron too, thanks to training completed by Flt Lt Adam Fowler recently.
Staff Training & Development
This year has been one of great change in the staffing at 1082 Squadron.
A national change in the rules allows Cadets who are over 18, known as staff cadets, to run activities on their own once they do a little more training.
Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO) Morgan Pether has planned Archery training sessions in the new year thanks to this rule change. He also, of course, holds an Archery GB qualification to run archery.
Cadet Flight Sergeant William Antcliff has also completed his over 18 training, and will be appointed Staff Cadet in the New Year.
CWO Pether is also the new Squadron Administrator, responsible for paperwork with cadets on camps and other activities. This is because our dedicated Adjutant, CI Matthew Harris, has now entered the Royal Air Force and is currently undergoing training at RAF Halton.
Matt is training as a Weapons Technician, and hopes to join an RAF Bomb Disposal team in future. We wish him the best of luck, and our great loss is the Royal Air Force’s gain I’m sure.
As you can see from the above image, Matt (rear right) has also been made Senior Man, and is in charge of his section of recruits during training. A very solid achievement in initial training.
Soon too our Training Officer and Communications instructor, Civilian Instructor Jordan Bembridge, will join the British Army by entering the Artillery. Jordan has been on the Squadron for 9 years as a cadet and staff member, and turned up to pretty much all events that he was able to, and has helped organise the training syllabus for the last two years.
Jordan will be sorely missed for his organisational skills, and especially his humour on Squadron.
Our Squadron tends to be the victim of it’s own success – in training cadets and staff for future life in service we do tend to lose the best to the forces.
Thankfully we’ve still retained some star staff, even though they’ve been through training themselves this year and only been partially available to the Squadron.
Sergeant Luke Pether will soon finish his Paramedics degree course at Stafford and hopefully join the East Midlands Ambulance Service.
Luke organises the First Aid training on Squadron, and is our first aid officer, as well as being the Squadron Warrant Officer. Whilst all staff must do a first aid qualification, having Luke’s experience on hand greatly improves the cadet training experience.
Sergeant Peter McCarry is also going through training with the Ambulance Service and will soon complete his course to become an AAP Technician. This qualification replaces the Ambulance Technician award.
To complete the set of Senior NCO staff, Sergeant Esther Taylor has just completed her Sergeant’s Staff Initial Course (SSIC) at RAF Cranwell. This involves work in drill, dress, discipline, welfare, and instructional techniques and is a week long course.
I myself also achieved a personal milestone. After 12 years as a uniformed member of staff as a Senior NCO finishing at the rank of Warrant Officer, I applied for a commission.
I completed a Wing potential officer’s course, Wing interview, and then attended selection at the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) at RAF Cranwell. After passing the selection criteria I attended a full week’s Officer Initial Course (OIC) at RAF College Cranwell, and passed out as a Pilot Officer.
I graduated with others who also went through selection with me at the same time. As I have previously completed the Squadron Commander’s course as a Warrant Officer, I was promoted to Flight Lieutenant soon afterwards.
We have also recruited two new staff at the Squadron. Reverend Daniel Cooke has joined as an honorary Squadron Chaplain. Daniel is the priest at our local parish church in Brimington and we know him well from Remembrance Services over the years. He even married Sgt Peter McCarry and his wife!
Daniel provides a monthly session on topics around personal awareness and moral issues, and is also around to provide counselling should cadets need a chat.
The monthly sessions are provided in a secular lesson format. Topics recently have included dealing with exam stress, getting on with people from different backgrounds as well as gender, race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.
We have also recruited Civilian Instructor Alistair Fields to help out on Squadron with training and the organisation of events. We look forward to getting Alistair involved in everything we do in 2018!
We are making a big push in 2018 around staff recruitment. We desperately need more staff – both for training cadets, and for helping occasionally with fundraising in the Civilian Committee.
Being a member of staff is great fun! You get to do the same activities as the cadets including camps, flying, shooting and adventure training.
You can also give as much or as little time as you like. As the Commanding Officer I have given over 400 hours to Air Cadet activities this year, a lot of it in training myself.
Civilian Welfare Committee staff though give 2-3 hours per month. This is for a monthly 2 hour meeting, and occasional fundraising activities such as public events and bag packs at supermarkets. No matter how much free time you may have, we would be very grateful of your help!
We would not be able to provide as many activities as we do without dedicated staff members. Please if you can, consider volunteering with us, either as a civilian committee member, a civilian instructor, or as a uniformed member of staff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
We are putting cadets forward for a range of courses this year, including another cadet being put forward for the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE).
We are also organising four camps for our Squadron. Two adventure training long weekends in Wales, and two Fieldcraft camps in Lincolnshire. These will be great fun and vital development for the cadets. This is in addition to the dozens of other camps and training days organised by Wing and Region that our cadets can take part in.
As we head in to 2018 I am confident we have the Squadron on a solid footing. We have well trained staff organising activities, and ever improving cadet NCOs to help lead activities.
With the range of fun yet developmental activities ready to go in 2018, and continued improvement in cadet recruitment, I hope to see our numbers go beyond 40 cadets in the next year – a great improvement from the 24 when I started as Commanding Officer.
We wouldn’t be able to do anything though without the great efforts behind the scenes that are not normally seen. Whether it be staff corralling cadets to applying for camps and activities, or others pushing the necessary but large burden of paperwork through the system, or those helping bake cakes for fundraising – I am eternally grateful for all your help. Every bit of help makes a difference.
We are all volunteers. What we achieve as a Squadron punches far above our weight of numbers, and it’s all down to the dedication of the members of our Squadron, both staff and cadets, and to the support of their families.
I hope you all have a happy New Year and a very successful 2018 with our Squadron!
Note: All images Crown Copyright unless otherwise stated. Approval has been given for use of all pictures for RAFAC publicity purposes.