Wednesday 24th July saw 96 members of South and East Midlands Wing travel from accross the length and bredth of the entire Wing to a top secret event at RAFC Cranwell. Weeks prior to this date saw a very mysterious email land in Sqn accounts from the WWO asking for the creme de la creme of the Sqn to represent the ACO at a secret ceremonial event.
Once the nominations were in they were told a set time and location to be collected by centralised MT and the journey to Cranwell began.
On arrival at Cranwell the sports Quaboos was filled with eager and confused cadets all desperate to find out exactly what they had let themselves in for.
The WWO then gathered everyone together for a briefing and explained that they would not be meeting the Queen, nor would they be catching a glimpse at the Royal baby. Instead they would be part of a prestigious ceremonial parade to mark the retirement and dining out of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) ACM Sir Stephen Dalton GCB, ADC RAF.
Once briefed the cadets then changed in to their best uniform and were issued ceremonial belts and gloves, the sizing off process began and it must be said that the cadets did well to number off all the way to 96 only having to start again once!
The cadets were then marched through RAF Cranwell and onto the Orange where they then were allocated set locations in which they would salute the VVIP vehicles as they passed. Whilst conducting the practice session a familiar face popped by to make sure that her idea was going to plan, Air Commadore McCafferty was suitably impressed and left the cadets to practice whilst she went off home to change.
Once the saluting was together and well rehearsed, more cadets were put in to position to create a funnel for the VVIPs to walk along once they exited from their vehicles, again practice over and one last water break for the team it was time to take position in the sweltering heat.
The evenings guests then arrived these being senior officers from the RAF including each and every station commander, they all then waited for the impending arrival of the Chief of Air Staff of which knew nothing about what he was about to witness as it had been kept a secret by all in his Air Force.
After 25 minutes the convoy of VVIP vehicles entered through Queens Gates and the relay of salutes took place as the CAS’s vehicle navigated around the Orange, a total shock to all was when CAS ordered his driver to stop the vehicle so he could get out and speak to the cadets and staff lining to route.
CAS then finished off the last few metres in his car and was greeted by 2 door openers and a funnel of cadets guiding the way to an awaiting CWO Liam Osbiston who had the prestigious task of presenting a wooden spitfire that was suitably engraved announcing the thanks and appreciation from all in the Air Cadet Organisation.
The cadets then reformed at the side of the parade square to witness a magnificent Ceremonial sunset parade by the Queens Colour Sqn that included a flypast by the reds and display from a Spitfire.
After hearing how well the Wing had represented the ACO by the Comdt it was then time for the cadets to make the long march back to the Sports Quaboos, this in itself was an impressive sight seeing such well drilled and smart members of the Corps transiting through the main road of the station.
One of the most daunting parts of the evening was yet to come as the cadets were required to march past a full coach of the Queens Colour Sqn with all eyes on us! Not one cadet out of step and heels dug in deep it must be said the WWO was filled with pride to command such a professional body of cadets.
All the cadets and staff that attended the event really did South and East Midlands Wing proud and represented the Air Cadet Organisation to the highest degree. Hopefully the first impression from the incoming CAS ACM Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC RAF is a positive and the support from the very top will continue.
By WO (ATC) Dan Haywood
Wing Warrant Officer
South and East Midlands Wing