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Alpine Programme Tests Volunteer Leaders

Published: 14 Aug 2015

Adult volunteers got the chance to work on their overseas leadership skills in June during Exercise Mercantour 2015, an expedition to the Alpes Maritimes in southern France partly funded by the RAF Charitable Trust.

Six Cadet Force Adult Volunteers from as far north as Inverness and as far south as Devon, plus two members of HQ Air Cadets staff, spent six days in the high alpine environment, learning and improving their skills. All six participants were experienced UK Summer Mountain Leaders, with the two staff members being qualified International Mountain Leaders. 

Each day was spent at altitudes of up to 3,000m in the mountains of the Mercantour National Park, developing technical, journeying and leadership skills. The programme involved researching routes, interpreting weather forecasts, risk assessment, briefing, leadership, navigation, route finding and group management.

Pilot Officer Norman Wakeman, from163 (Coventry Phoenix) Sqn, said:  "The week was a real learning curve - it took what I do as part of my Mountain Leader Award and built upon it massively. The expedition has really supported me in having the tools to be able to deliver overseas expeditions successfully."

Flight Sergeant Hannah Williams, from 341 (City of Preston) Sqn, said: "The expedition has helped me decide whether the International Mountain Leader qualification is feasible.  It has given me confidence as well as information to enable me to organise overseas trips for the cadets and, most importantly, given me contacts of other like-minded people who I can talk to and potentially work with to gain the award."

Expedition organiser Sqn Ldr Chris Conley added: "I would like to thank RAF Charitable Trust for their support with this expedition and the opportunities it provided to develop the knowledge and skills of the participating ACO staff."

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