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Article posted: Mar 17, 2009 by sl1

On Saturday 14th March, 35 Air Cadets from Swadlincote swapped their blue berets for ‘Mad’ Hats and completed a 16 mile sponsored walk along the Tissington Trail in Derbyshire.

On what was one of the windiest days of the month, the cadets from 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron (Sqn), braved the bitter elements to complete the walk in under 6 hours and hope to have raised up to a £1000 in the progress. As an added element of fun during the walk, each cadet had to wear an unusual item of headwear, which ranged from pink cowboy hats to crocheted caps and sombreros.

“Mad Hatters” at Ashbourne pictured left to right (rear row), Cadets Dyche, Caffrey, Lefevre, Garner, Ball and Hughes. (front row), Cadets Hextall and Barker

After an early start in Ashbourne, the cadets followed the Tissington Trail, an old railway track bed which snakes its way through the Derbyshire dales, to just south of Buxton. For some of the air cadets, this was their first experience of walking a long distance and their first visit to the Peak District. Despite sore feet and a few blisters, everybody made it to the finish line in high spirits and many were proud of their own personal achievements in having completed the walk. All of the hats also made it to the end, although a few had to be retrieved en-route from bushes and embankments, thanks to the relentless wind.

In addition to raising funds, the event was also used to develop some of the younger cadets, as they were given the responsibility of planning, organising and carrying out the walk. This year, Cadet Simon Martin (15) from Barton-under-Needwood was selected as the team leader for the Mad Hatters Hike challenge and he was responsible for planning the route, developing the timetable, delivering the briefings and writing letters to parents informing them of the activity. Cdt Martin said, “I was a little worried when I was asked to organise the day, but I used the things I had learnt from doing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions to help me plan it and it all went well in the end. I was very pleased that so many cadets completed the walk and we had some great fun with everyone wearing their silly hats”.

The “Mad Hatters” at the Tissington Trail Start point in Ashbourne

Flight Lieutenant Rob Moore, Officer in charge of the event added, “This has been another successful 1211 Squadron venture and I have been impressed not only with the planning team, led by Cadet Martin, but also with the stamina and enthusiasm shown by the new recruits and junior cadets who took part in the walk, and who have now successfully completed their first outdoor event with our unit. I would also like to add my thanks to the adult volunteers who supported the event either by walking the route or by manning checkpoints, without them we would not be able to provide such worthwhile opportunities and experiences for our cadets.”

The cadets from Swadlincote are currently raising funds to purchase new training equipment for their Band, Radio and First Aid projects and also to support a proposed training and educational trip in to Europe later in the year.