As we draw to the end of 2022, it is time to take stock of what has been achieved by the Wing in the past 12 months.
But first, it is also time to reflect on the service and dedication of the late Her Majesty the Queen, who’s service to the country over the past 70 years will never be forgotten. September brought with it the sombre realisation that the country has changed forever, but rising from this was the dedication shown by people across the country who gave their time to assist at the funeral of the last HM the Queen and at the proclamation of King Charles III, included members of the RAF Air Cadets and, closer to home, cadets from within the Wing.
The last 12 months has seen the Wing recover to some form of normality post Covid. Whilst the RFCA boundary re-alignment saw the Wing lose both 1406 (Spalding) Sqn and 2430 (Holbeach) Sqn to Trent Wing ATC in April, the overall cadet numbers are now above those of 31 March 2020, which is very encouraging for the future and shows the need to develop and evolve in the forthcoming months and years. The Covid hiatus may have caused a blip in the cadet promotion structure, but this now has dissipated with squadrons moving forward. I have had the opportunity to visit a number of Wing training events at RAF Henlow, and its massively encouraging to have constructive conversations with the cadets on the various courses to see how we are moving forward and that our cadets are happy to offer their opinions on our delivery and where we (as a Wing) need to focus to offer the full experience.
We have seen some notable events across the Wing during the year. The biggest events must be when the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Cambridge and Newmarket in June and King Charles III recently visited Luton. In each case, we had cadets and CFAVs in attendance showing the light blue footprint to the general public and the senior Royals in attendance. This year we have filled the high-profile Cadet roles for the Lord Lieutenants of both Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, as well as a number of local City/Town Mayors and RAF Stations across our Wing footprint. These cadets have represented the Wing in many high-profile events in a truly professional manner, and I am sure these opportunities will continue into 2023.
During 2022, the Wing reinstigated its key events. April saw Wing Easter Camp take place at the Stanford Training Area, with 200 cadets and 70 staff attending from across the Wing and other Wings in the Region. The highlight for many was the Chinook flights, with all but one cadet and all but 6 CFAVs having the opportunity for a flight. In July, the revised Wing Field Day took place at RAF Henlow. Despite high temperatures the cadets enjoyed the friendly competition. Well done to all that took part and thank you for your involvement.
What does 2023 offer for the cadets and CFAVs of Beds & Cambs Wing ATC? I have set in motion a new Wing structure, which will see the Wing moving forward, developing training for cadets and CFAVs. You will have seen the survey sent out by Fg Off Wright, I strongly encourage all cadets and CFAVs to complete as this will offer Wing the opportunity to evaluate its delivery of training across all aspects to all. As we move into the New Year, the first major event on the calendar will be our Wing-wide ATC Sunday Parade, full details via the WWO and your OC Sqn in due course. Wing Easter Camp is returning at its previous capacity of 300 cadets, but alas it will not be at our normal location; again details will be available via OC Sqns when available.
The last 12 months saw the departure of some keys CFAVs from across the Wing, some retiring from the organisation, whilst others moving onto pasture new. The loss of their experience will be hard to recovery from, but we need to look forward and encourage others to pick up the mantal so that we continue with their hard work. To all of the departing CFAVs, I send my thanks for the years of commitment you have put into the Wing.
I want to use this opportunity to personally thank all the staff, both Cadet Forces Adult Volunteers (CFAVs), civilian committee members and padres for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the Wing, because without your involvement we would not be in the position we are at present. I want to thank all the Wing Staff Officers, and especially to the Senior Leadership Team, for their continuing support and dedication to the Wing. I also want to thank the Wing HQ staff, who provides the invisible backroom support for everyone across the Wing, but without their assistance the Wing would slowly grind to a halt.
Thank you all for your continuing service and commitment to the Wing, not only on my behalf, but also that of all the young people whom we serve in the Wing.
I wish you and your families a safe, enjoyable, and very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. This time of year offers everyone the chance of recharging their batteries. The last 12 months has seen the Wing move forward at pace following a period of stagnation, so please use the break to enjoy family time and recharge those depleted batteries.
I look forward to seeing you all again soon.