Royal Air Force Air Cadets from Nuneaton and Bedworth have been celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the formation of their Squadron.
Friday the 9th May 2014 marked the 75th Anniversary of the formation of 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron and to celebrate three quarters of a century of the Air Cadet movement in Nuneaton the Squadron received a new Squadron Banner and held a Formal Dinner which was attended by past and present members of the Squadron as well as an impressive list of guests.
The Anniversary event started with a colourful Drum Head Banner dedication service which was conducted by Revd Simon Betteridge. During the service the outgoing Squadron Banner was marched onto parade for the last time and presented to Revd Betteridge, himself a former cadet of 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron who was in fact a member of the Banner party in April 1986 when the outgoing Banner was originally presented to the Squadron by the late Wing Commander Tom Bussey. Revd Betteridge then passed the outgoing Banner over to Squadron Leader Mike Allcoat RAFVR(T) for safe keeping. Mike was the Commanding Officer of 121 Squadron in 1986 when the outgoing banner was presented.
During his address Revd Simon Betteridge recalled the day when he was on parade as a member of the Banner party which received the Squadrons outgoing Banner. He expressed his immense pride at being called upon to conduct the dedication of the new Banner to mark the Squadron’s 75th anniversary and emphasised the fact that the cadets should always have pride in their Squadron and their Banner when on parade.
Revd Betteridge then went on to bless the new Banner which was draped over the traditional drum head altar before handing it to The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Mr Timothy Cox for formal presentation to the Squadron’s Banner bearer Cadet Corporal Reece Leatham.
The Banner dedication parade was followed by a formal 75th Anniversary dinner with a total of 95 guests which included:-
- The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Mr Timothy Cox.
- Marcus Jones, Member of Parliament for Nuneaton.
- Wing Commander Stuart Iles RAF VR(T) -
Officer Commanding Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing.
- Wing Commander Pravin Ladwa RAF VR(T).
- Wing Commander Steve Mills RAF VR(T).
- Lieutenant Colonel Pat Long -
Parachute Regimental Association.
- Squadron Leader Mike Allcoat RAF VR(T) -
Officer Commanding 121 Squadron 1977 ~ 1995.
- Squadron Leader Bryan Coats RAF VR(T).
- Gary Dancer - President of the Rotary Club of Nuneaton.
During his after dinner address to the squadron the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Mr Timothy Cox, expressed his admiration for the tremendous effort that the Squadron puts into its work within the community. He also made a special mention of 121 Squadron’s Cadet Flight Sergeant Connor Little who had acted as his Lord Lieutenant’s cadet during his first year in office.
Wing Commander Stuart Iles RAF VR(T) Officer Commanding Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing went on to give a potted history of 121 Squadron from its formation on 9th May 1939 through to the present day. He also made a specific point of highlighting the fact that 121 Squadron’s Commanding Officer, Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks who, as Wing Media Communications Officer, is normally the one behind the camera at such events was showing some signs of distress having been surgically removed from his own camera. For once 121 Squadron’s CO would be in the photographs. Wing Commander Iles also commended 121 Squadron’s Cadet Warrant Officer Michael Hadley who had been selected as the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing’s representative for the prestigious Dacre Sword, which is an annual competition held to select the best cadet in the corps.
Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks Officer Commanding 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron, Said, “Over time the Corps and indeed the Squadron has changed significantly. We are no longer a recruiting organisation for the RAF, as we were when the Squadron was formed, but a thriving youth organisation which still prides itself in an increasingly important role as part of what is known as the RAF’s light blue family”.
“Throughout the Squadron’s 75 years, hundreds of young people have benefited from the training, activities and comradeship that they have experienced as Air Cadets.”
“We should take pride in the fact that we still maintain the continuity of our main objectives and that today’s cadets still retain the same personal qualities and dedication as those cadets that were part of the first intakes.”
“This evening I am delighted to say that continuity of service formed a significant part in the Banner dedication parade with one of our former cadets Rev Simon Betterage who was the Banner Warrant Officer back in 1986 when the Squadron received it’s first banner, conducting this evening’s service.“
“I personally have been a member of 121 Squadron for over 41 years and have seen so many changes and am delighted to see so many former members and friends of the Squadron hear tonight.”
“So after 75 years we look forward to the future with our new banner on parade and I would take the opportunity to thank the Nuneaton Rotary Club for their generous donation which enabled us to purchase it.”
With the formalities of the dinner at an end, it was over to Mr Len Hardy, the Squadron's Civilian Committee Chairman who acted as master of ceremonies to announce the 2014 Cadet Award categories and winners. Len explained that the Air Cadet Awards Ceremony was being held in order to recognise the work and achievements of cadets both in their personal development and in support of the local community. He said, “Every member of the Squadron should be justly proud of their own efforts over the past year and it has been difficult to pick the winners of the awards being given out tonight.”
Mr Hardy then invited the various distinguished guests to present the cadet awards in the following categories:-
The Music Award - This award goes to the cadet who has shown outstanding musical prowess. The award, donated by Student Music Supplies, was presented to Cdt Kyle Evans by Wing Commander Stuart Iles RAF VR(T)
Cadets Cadet - This award is different from all the other awards in so much as this award is given to the cadet that has been nominated by their peers – fellow cadets. The Cadets Cadet Award was presented to Cdt Atlanta Curless by The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Mr Timothy Cox
Best Sports Cadet (Female) - This award goes to the Female cadet who has demonstrated the most outstanding commitment and sporting achievement at Squadron, Wing and Regional level. This year in recognition of her representation of the Wing in the Regional Hockey competition and her commitment to sport at Squadron level the award was presented to Cpl Breanne Richter by The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Mr Timothy Cox.
The Most Improved Cadet - This award goes to the cadet who has shown the most improvement across all activities. The Ubique Partnerships Ltd Award, was presented to Cdt Alex Kilpatrick by Marcus Jones, Member of Parliament for Nuneaton.
Outdoor Leadership Award - This award, donated by Outdoor Commando Fitness, is given to the cadet who has demonstrated outstanding potential for leadership in the field. And this year’s recipient has most definitely spread his wings to one of the furthest and most remote parts of the world ever visited by a cadet of this Squadron. For his conservation work during a Wing expedition to the Ascension Island during which he earned the praise is the Officer in Charge, the award was presented to Sgt Matthew Carrington by Marcus Jones, Member of Parliament for Nuneaton.
Drill & Turnout Award - This award donated by the Bedworth Branch of The Parachute Regiment Association recognises the cadet who has shown military bearing and excellence in their drill and turnout over the year. This year in recognition of his work with the Squadron’s Banner party and his collaborative efforts with the Nuneaton Standard Bearers Association the award was presented to Cpl Reece Leatham by Lieutenant Colonel Pat Long.
Best Sports Cadet (Male) - This award goes to the Male cadet who has demonstrated the most outstanding commitment and sporting achievement at Squadron, Wing and Regional level. This year in recognition of his representation of the Wing in the Regional Hockey competition and his commitment to sport at Squadron level the award was presented to Cdt Adam Harris by Lieutenant Colonel Pat Long.
Cadet Mentoring Award - This award goes to the cadet who best uses their experience to support and help younger cadets who may be struggling or less confident to develop their full potential and get the most out of their time with the Air Cadets. This year the award was presented to Cpl Ronan Dykes by Wing Commander Stuart Iles.
Best Cadet Award - This award is given to the cadet who has been nominated by the Staff as being the cadet who has consistently shown and demonstrated outstanding commitment and achievement across all areas of Air Cadet Training and Community involvement. This award would normally be presented to one of our more junior cadets. However as this presentation event is the last opportunity for the Squadron to recognise the outstanding achievements of one of its more senior members, a cadet who has quite frankly put the Air into his Air Cadet career and who was selected as the best cadet in the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing to represent the Wing as it’s nominee for the Dacre Sword. This year the award was presented to CWO Michael Hadley by Wing Commander Stuart Iles who also presented Michael with the trophy for the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing’s Dacre Sword nominee.
As the evening came to a close Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks Officer Commanding 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron, Said, “I would like to thank everyone who has helped to make tonight’s banner parade and dinner hear at the Ambleside Community Sports Club possible and would once again thank all of our members, friends and guests for joining us for our 75th Anniversary celebrations. It has been a truly outstanding evening and a fitting way for 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron to celebrate three quarters of a century of service to our community.”
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