Air Cadets In Big Blue Parade for Their 75th Anniversary


Air Cadets from 1406 (Spalding) Squadron were joined by other squadrons from the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Organisation. An unprecedented number of 750 cadets and 75 uniformed staff paraded through the City of Ely yesterday.
This parade, the largest in the Wing’s history, was led by cadets of the Wing Band. Squadrons usually meet others in their sector, celebrating what is known as “ATC Sunday” on the anniversary of the formation. For the 75th anniversary, Wing Commander Tony Kelly had a much more ambitious vision. Gathering so many cadets and staff for one parade has been “an opportunity for the whole Wing to come together to start a year of celebration and pride in our achievements”. Cadet Gale from 2500 St Neots Squadron echoed the thoughts of many young cadets at the parade. “It’s so exciting! Everyone looking, thinking they look smart, and wow, they’re good”.

Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Padre, Roger Cresswell, held a service which included an excerpt from the memories of Peter Price, an Air Cadet who lived in the south of England during the Battle of Britain. These nostalgic tales form part of the Corps’ history and helped today’s cadets understand what it was like to be an Air Cadet 75 years ago.

At such an auspicious occasion, it was the perfect time to dedicate the new Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Banner which was revealed for the first time at Ely Cathedral. Cadet Warrant Officer Morgan of 1003 Leighton Buzzard squadron commented “today has been a massive highlight in my career as a cadet. Accompanying the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and seeing the new Wing banner with so many cadets was fantastic.” Each Squadron also paraded their own banner. For Corporal Ahmed of 2465 Luton Icknield Squadron, this was his first time as Banner Bearer at such a public event. He felt “privileged but a little nervous”.

Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenants for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, Helen Nellis and Sir Hugh Duberly KCVO CBE, took the salute and met with the cadets at a reception. Helen Nellis is enthusiastic in her support of the cadet organisations. “Ask the average teen what they did at the weekend, and they spent most of it playing video games. Ask an Air Cadet and they’ve been on an exercise, doing something for charity, shooting or flying. It helps them learn so many transferrable skills to take into adult life.” They were supported by Her Majesty’s High Sheriffs for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire as well over a dozen Mayors or Deputy Mayors from across the Wing area. Also attending were two former Commandant Air Cadets – Air Commodores Jon Ford and Jon Chitty, Station Commanders from local Royal Air Force bases, Squadron Padres and members of many Squadron’s Civilian Committees.

The ATC ethos is to create good citizens and has a varied syllabus teaching leadership, radio and communications, aircraft recognition, drill, first aid and sports. Many cadets also attend camps and expeditions and enjoy learning about aircraft and flying. Cadets also have the opportunity to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme which is delivered across the Air Cadet Organisation.

Over the past 75 years the ATC has expanded to 1200 units in the UK and overseas. In Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing there are 29 squadrons and over a thousand cadets. The ATC is currently recruiting volunteer adult staff for a variety of roles based in towns across the two counties.