• WO A Coleman

1803 Squadron Presentation Night 2020

On the evening of the 28th February, the Squadron held its annual presentation evening to celebrate the massive achievements of both the Squadron and the Cadets themselves. Officer Commanding, Pilot Officer Liam Vernon, started the proceedings by welcoming everybody to the evening and by giving a brief overview into the running of an Air Cadet squadron, talking about how all the voluntary staff, both uniformed and civilian provide learning and development opportunities in many different subjects and disciplines such as Leadership and Team Building, BTEC Qualifications, The Duke of Edinburgh Award, Sporting opportunities, Adventurous Training, RAF history and knowledge, Flying, First Aid and Marksmanship. He also mentioned that some of the Squadron staff are also involved in supporting courses and activities at Wing, Region and Corps level. Pilot Officer Vernon also went on to briefly talk about the squadron’s Civilian Committee and how they support the squadron with fundraising and take care of the squadron’s welfare needs. With Pilot Officer Vernon recently taking over 1803 Squadron, Friday evening was a good opportunity to pass our gratitude and thanks to the outgoing Officer Commanding Flt Lt Richard Elam. Flt Lt Elam was our OC for the last two years, an essential role in the Air Cadets, a person who oversees and has responsibility for most aspects of the safe, efficient and effective running of the Squadron. It’s a demanding but very rewarding role. As Pilot Officer Vernon stated “Richard has been an excellent OC, an ambassador for the Squadron, caring deeply about each and every cadet, determined to provide opportunities for them and his staff – all with a smile and sense of humour… He’s here tonight as an honoured guest and friend of the Squadron”. Flt Lt Elam stood down recently after a number of years uniform service at Derwent Valley and Louth Squadrons, prior to arriving at Hucknall in Feb 2018. As a leaving present, Flt Lt Elam was presented with a framed print of an RAF Harrier, signed by the whole squadron, and a bottle of single malt whisky. Following on from Flt Lt Elam’s presentation, Pilot Officer Vernon went on to talk about our Civilian Committee and all the great things that they do by supporting the squadron, not just in their committee role, but also helping to support weekend activities, “Our CivCom are fantastic; they’re so supportive of what we want to achieve, dedicating their own time to raising funds and also supporting cadets’ activities, a good example being DofE expeditions”. After a showing of appreciation for our committee (who funded the majority of the evening), it was then time to move on to the main event, the recognition of the achievements of our cadets and the presentation of their awards! Pilot Officer Vernon started off the presentations with a myriad of educational and skill-based awards, starting off with the Young Leaders Award. “Early last year we invited the Institute of Leadership Management to our Squadron – they ran a two-day course for our cadets, called the Young Leaders Award. Working with young people, we know that there are some skills you can teach them that are more life-changing than others. Among the most vital of those, is leadership. Leadership skills dramatically improve educational prospects and enhance career progression too. The Young Leaders Award is a nationally recognised qualification that makes our cadets more attractive to colleges and employers alike while enhancing the reputation of 1803”. The certificates were presented to Corporals Tula Bacon, Charlie Jacques-Bluff and Jack Vernon, and to Cadets Charlie Dennis, Josh Case and Noah Renshaw. Introducing the next award, Pilot Officer Vernon had this to say “Cadets can join us at a young age, for those that are 16 to 18 there are further educational awards only open to cadets. One such award is the BTEC Level 2 in Teamwork and Personal Development in the Community. Through cadet experiences, learners study units including Personal development through adventurous activities, Employment skills in uniformed organisations, Fundamentals of nautical studies and Land navigation by map and compass. This is quite a commitment and leads to a qualification acknowledged by Universities and employers. This BTEC award was presented to Flight Sergeant Amy Smith. Following on from the awards from external bodies, it was time to move onto the Classification certificates and badges. Over a period of three years, all Air Cadets study topics that are focussed on Aviation, the RAF and Land Navigation; they join us as junior cadets, receive basic training and pass out as First-Class cadets. From then on, each classification gets more technical, until by the end of the training they achieve another BTEC, this time in Aviation Studies. The first step in this achieving the classification of Leading Cadet. This was awarded to Cadets David Blaj, Erin Dixon, Giorgio Marraffa, Arely Moss, Naomi Richardson and Nicola Saxton. There were also certificates for four cadets that have recently completed this journey and now hold the classification of Master Air Cadet. These cadets will in due course receive their BTEC in Aviation Studies and are now about to start training to be able to instruct other cadets in these subjects. The certificates were awarded to Sergeant Jake Foster and Corporals Jacques-Bluff, Vernon and Bacon. Moving on to the presentation of the squadron’s trophies, Pilot Officer Vernon started off with the Sports Trophy. “The first trophy I want to award is in recognition of a cadets sporting achievements last year. We had a particularly strong year, with winners at the Wing Athletics events, three cadets going on to represent the Wing; our boy's orienteering team won the WFD event, breaking the record; and we had two very convincing winners of the Wing and Regional swimming events, winning five gold medals and breaking records. It is for the achievements at Wing, Regional and Corps athletic competitions by of one of our cadets that wins this award. Cadet Ife Odubore surprised us all with her shot-putt gold at Wing and Region (by over a metre) and gaining a silver at Corps. I, therefore, invite cadet Ife Odubore forward to receive the 2019 sporting cadet awards” After the Sporting Award, came the Academic Award, this is in recognition of the academic and training achievements of the winner, there are a lot of cadet activities on the Squadron and Wing open to cadets; this award recognises the dedication required to take these challenges up. This year is a three-way tie, three cadets have taken and passed BTEC classifications and gained awards and badges for Leadership, Gliding, Radio Operating, First Aid and Cyber. This year the trophy was awarded to Sergeant Foster and Corporals Bacon and Vernon The third trophy recognises the shooting prowess and commitment of the winner. This cadet has undertaken weapon handling training and shooting at our annual Wing Camp but has especially come to be noticed for his Clay Target Shooting skills, by being awarded a position in the Wing CTS squad. This award was presented to Cadet Noah Renshaw. The Best Newcomer Award was awarded to Cadet Nicola Saxton, becoming triumphant after a very tough decision process by the staff, as Pilot Officer Vernon stated “Last year we had three sets of intakes under consideration. This was a tough area as the quality of cadets joining us is so high. One cadet though did stand out, showing high levels of enthusiasm, attendance, smartness, willingness to learn and commitment to new activities, such as DofE, sports, drill, AT, shooting and supporting the Squadron at community events”. Best Female and Male Cadet Awards. “We have considered which cadets should receive the best male and best female award,” Said Pilot Officer Vernon, “with both we’re looking to those that have shown high levels of commitment to their own development, support of their cadet peers, representation of the Squadron locally and pushed themselves in cross-squadron or Wing activities. The best female cadet award for 2019 will go to a cadet that has achieved all of this. For example, I saw first-hand her leadership on a Wing AT camp and during a DofE expedition; she was deservedly recognised for promotion in 2019 and has pushed herself academically. - I invite Corporal Tula Bacon forward to receive this award” Pilot Officer Vernon continued “The best male cadet award for 2019 will go to a cadet that has also represented the Squadron superbly, whilst relatively young in service. I personally know that he has pushed himself well outside of his comfort zone on a number of occasions, such as attending an annual camp, typifying the spirit and ethos of the Air Cadets. I invite Cadet Arley Moss forward to receive this award”. Moving on to the two final trophies of the year, the Cadet of the Year, as decided by the sqn staff and the Cadets’ Cadet Award, nominated and voted for purely by the cadets. Starting off with the Cadets’ Cadet award Pilot Officer Vernon had this to say “The winner of this award goes to a cadet who is clearly recognised by other cadets as someone who is a leader, approachable, supportive and passionate about the Air Cadets, therefore I invite cadet FS Finn Oldfield forward to receive this award!” And finally, the 1803 Sqn Cadet of the Year Award 2019 “In selecting the winner, staff considered which cadet had not only shown commitment and development to themselves, their peers and the Squadron, but also a wider commitment to cross-squadron and Wing activities. The winner is a cadet who leads by example in the Squadron, has consistently sought out new training for themselves and other cadets; has come up with and implemented new ideas to enhance cadets experience. This cadet has had a fantastic 2019 at a Wing and cross-squadron level, through road marching activities, music and Wing camp, Cadet FS Finn Oldfield thoroughly deserves this award and I invite him forward to receive it” Closing the ceremony, so that the cadets could get on to the important business of hitting the dancefloor, Pilot Officer Vernon ended his first Presentation Evening with these few words, “So that brings to an end our awards for 2019 – I speak for all staff volunteers when I say how proud we are of our cadets, we are a fantastic Squadron, all are winners in our eyes, you are a credit to the RAF Air Cadets and the town of Hucknall. What a fantastic 2019! Richard thank you for your legacy; what a great platform for 2020 and beyond you’ve built – there’s a buzz about the Squadron, we’re moving forward and your continued support of your sons and daughters on their Air Cadet journey is vital to maintaining this momentum. Ladies and Gentlemen, friends of 1803, please join me one last time in applauding the adult volunteers and cadets of 1803 Hucknall Squadron”

(Photos and write-up by Flt Sgt R Carr)

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