On Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 June 2015, Air Cadets & staff from across Nottinghamshire took a leading role in the Armed Forces weekend event at Wollaton Park in Nottingham, as part of the national celebrations taking place across the UK in support of members of HM Forces past and present.
ATC participation at the event was a collaboration of 9 Nottinghamshire Units, all working together to display the best of the Air Cadet Organisation to the thousands of visitors who attended Wollaton Park over the weekend. Some 50 Cadets & staff made up the ATC contingent on the Saturday, with the number of personnel reaching a massive 60 on the Sunday.
The ATC stand was made up of three key elements – recruitment, centred on the new Air Cadet marquee offering promotional material to the many interested visitors, interactive engagement, including an exhibition promoting Adventure Training and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, along with the principle aviation aspect provided by both the cockpit of an Air Cadet Vigilant aircraft and a full size glider provided by Fg Off Steve Dodds (138 Sqn).
The ATC delivered the largest single contingent and display at the event, which alongside the Regular and Reserve RAF proved to be a very impressive and popular attraction.
Saturday was blessed with sunshine which helped to create an atmosphere of enjoyment for everyone involved at the event. Highlights of the first day included a performance by the Band of RAF College Cranwell and a fly past by a Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc PZ865 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
Sunday involved a Drum-Head Service, attended by the Sherriff of Nottingham and various civic leaders and senior military personnel. This ceremonial highlight of the weekend was one of the many areas where the ATC played a leading part, with FS (ATC) Mark Blacknell (504 Sqn) taking on the important role of Parade Marshall. The South & East Midlands Wing Banner was paraded as part of the service, carried by CWO Joe Mitchell (1359 Sqn).
During the weekend, ATC Cadets & staff had the rare opportunity of meeting a World War II veteran, as former RAF Regiment Gunner Alf Cross (93) spent time at the ATC stand and spoke of his experiences with the RAF Regiment when it was first formed in 1942 and his extensive wartime service in North Africa and Italy almost others.
ATC participation at the Nottingham Armed Forces weekend was a real achievement and a shining example of Units working together to ensure the “light-blue footprint” is blazing bright and the profile and good work of the Air Cadet Organisation is highlighted in the local community. Nottinghamshire Units taking part at this high-profile event were 138 (1st Nottingham) Squadron, 209 (West Bridgford) Squadron, 504 (West Nottingham) Squadron, 1359 (Beeston) Squadron). 1360 (Stapleford & Sandiacre) Squadron, 1936 (Newton) Squadron, 2195 (Long Eaton) Squadron, 2418 (Sherwood) Squadron, & 2425 (Nottingham Airport) Squadron.
Both 504 Sqn & 1359 Sqn acted as lead Units in preparation and during the event, with Flt Lt Phil Bannister (OC 1359 Sqn) taking on the role of Operations Officer during the weekend.
Speaking at the end of the weekend, Flt Lt Jodi Hudson (Wing Staff Officer), who co-ordinated the ATC contingent at the event, said: “The support of so many Units and personnel has been the primary factor in our success at Armed Forces weekend, thank you to every Cadet, NCO, & member of staff who have each helped to make it happen.”