Hundreds of air cadets parade in honour of RAF centenary

Hundreds of cadets have proudly paraded to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force.

The 350 young cadets, including those from Sunderland and South Tyneside, stood shoulder to shoulder with serving RAF personnel, reservists, Air Training Corps’ staff and veterans, as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the formation of the world’s first independent air force.

Cadets on parade at Durham Cathedral.  Picture Paul Norris

Cadets on parade at Durham Cathedral. Picture Paul Norris

The cadets drawn from across the Durham/Northumberland Wing of the ATC were also joined by dignitaries, including the Lord Lieutenants of Durham and Tyne and Wear, and Air Vice-Marshal Mike Wigston, CBE, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, whose arrival in Durham aboard a new Northern Rail train from Newcastle he had earlier named Spirit of the Royal Air Force, coincided with a commemorative flypast by a Spitfire.

Among the groups taking part were 111 (Sunderland) Squadron, 607 (Wearmouth) Squadron, 2214 (Usworth) Squadron, 324 (South Shields) Squadron, 1027 (Jarrow) Squadron, 1338 (Seaham) Squadron and 36 (Hetton) Squadron.

Cadet Warrant Officer Elliot Barker, 18, of 111 (Sunderland) Squadron said: “It was an absolute honour to carry the Squadron banner at this impressive parade which marks 100 years of the Royal Air Force.

“I am deeply proud to wear the uniform of our parent service and remember those who, over the last 100 years, have helped to keep the country safe from harm.”

Lord Lft. of Durham Sue Snowdon inspects the cadets at Durham Cathedral.  Picture Paul Norris

Lord Lft. of Durham Sue Snowdon inspects the cadets at Durham Cathedral. Picture Paul Norris

CWO Barker has been a member of the ATC for four years and had the honour of carrying the Squadron banner on the parade.

Cadet Matthew Curran, 14, of 111 (Sunderland) Squadron, said: “As a relatively new cadet I am in awe at this magnificent event.

“I am proud to have been a part of something so important, it supports my choice of a career with the Royal Air Force and my dream to serve alongside so many brave people.”

Cadet Curran has been a member of the ATC for six months and marched alongside his peers in the parade.

Cadets on parade at Durham Cathedral.  Picture Paul Norris

Cadets on parade at Durham Cathedral. Picture Paul Norris

Cadet Warrant Officer Rebecca Walley, 19, of 607 (Wearmouth) had the honour of escorting 100-year-old former Women’s Auxilliary Air Force member Gwen Weston, into Durham Cathedral.

CWO Walley said: “I’m really proud to be taking part in the parade.

“The number of cadets who have turned out to honour the 100th anniversary of the RAF, is really impressive.

“I was especially honoured to escort Gwen, someone who is as old as the RAF and fought in World War Two.

The spitfire flys over Durham as part of the 100 Years Celebrations.  Picture by Paul Norris

The spitfire flys over Durham as part of the 100 Years Celebrations. Picture by Paul Norris

“She was a real inspiration.”

Gwen Weston, 100 years old, arrives at Durham Cathedral with CWO Rebecca Walley of 607 (Wearmaouth sqd).  Picture by Paul Norris

Gwen Weston, 100 years old, arrives at Durham Cathedral with CWO Rebecca Walley of 607 (Wearmaouth sqd). Picture by Paul Norris