Cadet Warrant Officer Matthew Lifford of 1936 (Newton) Squadron has recently returned from the trip of a life time along with 3 other RAF Cadets, from the mountain nation of Nepal.
19 year old Matt, a member of the Air Training Corps for 5 years, applied for the Himalayan adventure after previously completing the RAF Cadet Junior Leaders course. The application consisted of testing his social and fitness skills to the limit and the completion of an in depth written application, before finally making the grade.
The journey to the far side of the world was itself, funded by an organisation called the John Thornton Young Achievers Award. The award, was set up in recent years in memory of Royal Marine Lieutenant John Thornton, who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
The aims of the award are to advance the lives of young people by providing financial assistance for leisure time activities and pursuits, so as to develop their capabilities in that they become mature individuals and members of society.
Arriving in the ancient nation of Nepal, Matt trekked his way to the Mount Everest Base camp along with his team mates, and endured hail and snow during the return assent, putting their physical strength to the test. Upon returning to the local airport, the Air Cadet team found that it was closed due to the torrential weather and were forced to walk for a further 5 days, while carrying their own kit.
An important part of the trip was meeting retired Ghurkha troops and their families. This included meeting widows of troops killed in action, serving the United Kingdom. The Ghurkha’s, world famous as brave fighting men, have since the 19th Century competed to serve in the British Army, despite Nepal being independent of the UK. That competitiveness continues in the mountain villages to this day.
Amazingly, there is only one retirement home in the whole of Nepal, this being home to those elderly soldiers fortunate to secure a place there. Cared for by the Ghurka Trust, Matt was introduced to the veterans and was given the special insight into how the trust works tirelessly for the whole Nepalese community.
During his time in Nepal, Matt saw a traditional, hard working and ancient nation, experienced the proud spirit of its old soldiers, the hustle and bustle of the markets and bazaars, and witnessed truly once in a lifetime mountain scenery.
A unique overseas adventure, one of many such activities that are open to young adults who can display the personal attributes required to succeed, Matt recommends that all cadets within the Air Training Corps seek to apply for as many camps and visits at home and overseas as possible. Matt said, “This was the most amazing experience of my time in the cadets, and something I will never forget. I would encourage everyone to work hard, get as many air cadet courses as possible under their belt and the sky really is the limit”.
Warrant Officer Rob Phillips of 1936 Squadron, based on the former RAF Newton site in Nottingham said “After hearing of such an overseas expedition, the motto of the Air Training Corps ‘Venture Adventure’ really does hold true. Matt is a shining example of what we offer to our cadets, and we are proud of his achievements”.
By Rob Phillips
WO and 1936 MCO