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Double Grant Helps Longbenton Cadets Achieve

Published: 15 Oct 2015

Cadets from 2344 (Longbenton) Sqn in Newcastle upon Tyne have been making the most of two grants awarded by the RAF Charitable Trust. The money helped fund training and development, during which cadets took their own programme into the community to help others gain skills and qualifications, and an ambitious expedition to the Pyrenees.

The two activities were brought together at Operation Flying Circus, the squadron's annual awards evening at which the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear and RAFCT Trustee Alan Smith were guests of honour. 

Alan said: "The event was extremely well organised, and the leadership of the squadron was very impressive, as was the spirit and capabilities of the cadets. I was delighted to see that the Charitable Trust's contribution was singled out in the speeches and during the presentation, and am very happy to pass on the squadron's gratitude to the Trustees."

Back in May, the 50-strong unit applied for £9,491 for training resources for Operation Seneca, the Squadron's Training and Development Programme. Working in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, the aim was to help young people realise their potential by gaining qualifications, and to make a difference in their community by leading STEM, aerospace and sports activities. 

The money bought five iPad minis, 10 IPad Airs, iPad storage, MTa activity kits and CREST qualification kits, and the equipment is being put to good use, with the cadets creating The 2344 Offer. This programme aims to challenge and motivate young people to help them achieve, with members of 2344 Sqn visiting local schools and youth groups to run leadership, STEM and aerospace activities and sports. The result has been an influx of over 20 new cadets to the Air Cadets.  

Cadet Emilia Ross, 15, from Killingworth, said: "The support from the Charitable Trust has changed the way we do our activities; they're all active, fun and challenging and we can use what we learn at school and in life."   

The Sqn also received a grant of £1,250 to help fund Op Vertex, an expedition which took six cadets and three members of staff to the Pyrenees. The expedition succeeded in conquering the 2,784m Pic du Canigou, and also gave the 16- to 18-year-olds the chance to experience French culture and to gain skills such as campcraft, navigation and leadership plus determination and team work. 

Cadet Thomas Bell, 15, of Killingworth said, "The overall experience was something else! We learnt so much about history, the outdoors, mountaineering and how to be self-sufficient.  It was a great confidence boost. We even cooked and cleaned for ourselves."

Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson, said "I sincerely thank the RAF Charitable Trust for its kind generosity, support and backing.

"The Trust funding for Operation Seneca helped us create a challenging learning environment that promotes fun, progress and achievement, and can prepare our young people for the future. Op Vertex also gave cadets a challenging new experience, and the entrepreneurial skills to raise funds for the expedition. I am tremendously proud of the cadets, and I thank the Trust for their support in making the expedition happen."

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