Air Cadets and staff from 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron have been going all out to achieve Bronze Silver and Gold during their recent Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme expeditions.
After months of planning and training it was finally time for the 14 cadets and 2 members of staff to set off on their practice and qualifying expeditions in the Welsh hills.
As 12 cadets attended a Squadron organised Bronze level expedition camp at the Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing adventure training centre at Elan Valley, two other cadets and two members of staff with their eyes firmly set on Silver and Gold teamed up with other cadets from across Warwickshire & Birmingham at the National Air Cadet Adventure Training Centre (NACATC) in Llanbedr, North Wales.
The cadets who went to Elan Valley spent the first part of the week doing practice walks and planning the route that would be used for their qualifying expedition. Then the real challenge began as they set of into the Welsh hills completely on their own, on what for many of them would be the most physically challenging two days of their lives. The weather was very poor, raining most of the time, with visibility less than perfect. The Cadets rose to the challenge and working as a team, everyone completed their routes in good time, developing their navigational skills and demonstrating a real determination to succeed against everything Wales could throw at them.
Meanwhile not to far away at Llanbedr, Cadet Sergeant Sam Dowdall and Cadet Grant Robey were facing an even more challenging three day expedition covering 30 miles of the rugged welsh terrain. Once again the weather was none to helpful; however they managed to finish their route with Grant completing his practice and Sam qualifying for her expedition element of the Duke of Edinburgh Award at Silver level.
But it was the two members of the Squadron staff, Adult Sergeant Nick Hammond and Civilian Instructor Graham Barber who were going for Gold who faced the biggest challenge of all. Their physical fitness navigation skills, teamwork and ability to live out of a rucksack were about to be put to the ultimate test as they set of on their four day route covering 50 miles of the wildest countryside Llanbedr had to offer much of it over 2000ft. Thankfully both Nick and Graham managed to overcome everything North Wales could throw at them and qualified for the Gold level expedition element of the award scheme.
Flight Lieutenant Ian Crewe Officer Commanding 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron said, “This spectacular haul of six successfully completed Bronze one Silver and two Gold level expeditions as well as six Bronze and 1 Silver practices in the same week will give a much needed boost to the Squadrons participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions are also tremendously helpful to those cadets who are working towards their BTEC First Diploma in Public Services. I know it's a long way off the achievements of ‘Team GB' who recently returned from the Olympics but the challenge these cadets and staff members faced to get their haul of Bronze Silver and Gold was possibly the most physically demanding thing they had ever attempted and they should be equally proud of their achievements.