Forty cadets from 126 (City of Derby) Squadron have completed a gruelling 14 hour sponsored event to raise money for an educational visit to the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, France.
The group decided to follow in the footsteps of the D-Day heroes after hearing the story of a veteran who is related to one of the young cadets. They were moved by the tales of bravery and decided to organise the event to reduce the cost of the overseas camp and make it accessible to all cadets. Flying Officer Jackie Glover who organised the 14 hour challenge said, “We are an inner city squadron. A lot of our cadets have been unable to attend previous overseas camp due to the high cost. By raising some of the cost of the camp through a sponsored event, the camp is now open to all cadets on the unit.”
Each cadet that took part in the event had to re-enact a series of actions from D-Day. First of all, each cadet rowed a section of the Channel on rowing machines (194km in total). They then climbed the steep cliffs using the squadron climbing wall (100m). The cadets walked the equivalent of the Commando route from Ouistreham to Benouville (9.3km) and marched the route from Ranville to Pegasus Bridge (6.4km). Finally, the cadets made 2700 poppies to represent the British casualties from D-Day. CWO Leon Aldred said, “Making the poppies was fun but it took us 10 hours. While we were making the poppies, it brought home to us the scale of the losses on 6th June 1944.”
At the end of a very challenging day, the cadets took part in a sunset ceremony. A wreath was laid by Cadet Corporal Jordan Dimmock and Cadet Sergeant Ashely Richardson. Then as the last post was played, the squadron ensign was lowered and the poppies were released into the air. As the cadets remembered the heroes of D-Day, the poppies floated to the ground, forming a red carpet around the flag pole.
The cadets now look forward to their visit to Normandy in October when they will get the chance to see the historic sites, war graves and museums first hand.