A committed flight lieutenant is celebrating 30 years as unit commander of an air cadet squadron this month – making him the longest-serving commander in the country.
Flight Lieutenant Alyn Thompson RAFVR completes 30 years as Officer Commanding 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron Air Training Corps this month.
Having joined as a cadet in 1970, Mr Thompson gained his Volunteer Reserve Queen’s Commission in 1980 and took over the successful squadron from his uncle, former Spitfire pilot George Thompson, in September 1984.
Flt Lt Thompson has seen many changes to the squadron and the air cadet set-up over the three decades, including the introduction of female cadets into the ranks and alterations to the training syllabus, which now includes BTEC qualifications which are recognised both by the military and by civilian employers.
He said: “As a cadet I achieved Gliding Wings, the gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and an overseas trip to Germany, and believed I had gained a lot from my membership.
“Today, cadets of the Air Training Corps can gain so much more with our organisation, which I still believe to be the best youth group in the country.”
As well as being the longest-serving squadron commander in the country,Flt Lt Thompson is only the seventh to command at the Swadlincote group, which was formed in 1941 and now operates from its current location in Eureka Park, Swadlincote.
During his time Flt Lt Thompson has achieved much, and the squadron has won a multitude of awards.
He said: “During my time as the commanding officer we have achieved a great deal becoming one of the top squadrons in the UK. This year has seen us maintain that high quality, with the squadron once again winning the title of champion unit in the Midlands with our recent win at the Wing Field Day Championships, not to mention cadets and staff going overseas to Germany, Gibraltar, Cyprus and Ascension Island, as well as UK camps at RAF Cranwell and Swynnerton.”
And the award-winning squadron has no plans to stop any time soon. In fact, the 1211 squadron is recruiting new, younger cadets from the age of 12 this year, in the hope of expanding the group even further.
Through his leadership, loyalty and commitment to 1211 Sqn and the Air Training Corps, Flt Lt Thompson has been responsible for changing the lives of hundreds of young men and women from Swadlincote and surrounding areas and is likely to continue doing so for many more years to come.
Fg Off R Moore 1211 Sqn