Warwickshire and Birmingham cadets have been recognised as the high flyers of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. As the Scheme enters its 50 th Year, members of Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing Air Cadets showed what could be achieved through self- confidence and hard work.
Not content with being the top performers across the Air Training Corps for the Millennium Volunteer Scheme the cadets, aged between 14 -20 have also been awarded the prestigious Sir Roger Austin Sword in recognition of the achievement of gaining over 233 Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards in the last 12 months.
The sword was presented to Wing Commander Pravin Ladwa, Officer Commanding the Wing, by Air Marshall (ret'd) Sir Roger Austin at a ceremony at their Headquarters in Coventry . When Sir Austin retired after 42 years service in the Royal Air Force, he wanted to donate an incentive to today's youth to motivate and challenge themselves by developing leadership and self -reliance; the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme was exactly suited to the promotion of Sir Austin's ideals.
Accordingly he commissioned a special sword, known as the Millennium Sword. This sword is now awarded to the Air Cadet Wing that achieves the highest award totals across the 45,000 air cadets in the UK who participate in the Scheme. The Wing's Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme's Officer, Squadron Leader Bryan Coates, said "The award of the Sir Austin Sword for the first time in the West Midlands is a tremendous achievement by our cadets and volunteer staff and reflects the hard work and enthusiasm it took to achieve these two national awards"
Following the award by Sir Austin, Mrs Lyn Wilkes the Midlands co-ordinator for the Award Scheme, presented the Wing with the Millennium Volunteer Certificate in recognition of the 60,000 hours the cadets dedicated to helping their local communities, thus making them the top-performing Wing.
After the official handover of the sword, Sir Austin took the opportunity to chat with the cadets who had provided both a guard of honour and a fan-fare accolade. Sir Austin remarked that he was proud to see how given the opportunity, today's youth showed a range of talent, teamwork and self-esteem that matched any in the older generation.