Sunderland’s air cadets are flying high after winning top squadron award

An inspection has named 111 (Sunderland) Squadron best in the North.
An inspection has named 111 (Sunderland) Squadron best in the North.

Young cadets in Sunderland are flying high following an inspection.

The 111 (Sunderland) Squadron has recently been recognised as the best squadron in the North of England, following an inspection by RAF Group Captain Mark Leeming.

Proud members of 111 (Sunderland) Squadron following a top inspection.

Proud members of 111 (Sunderland) Squadron following a top inspection.

The inspection, which forms part of the Sir Alan Lees trophy, saw the squadron compete against four others from across the region and took place at Broadway Junior School with a full march past and band performance.

The Lees Trophy dates back to 1949 when, after the Second World War, Sir Alan Lees presented the trophy as a way of honouring the top squadron in the Air Training Corps.

Sir Alan, a senior RAF officer, became Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Reserve Command following the war – now the trophy is given to just one squadron, every other year.

Following the formal parade, Group Captain Leeming was invited back to the squadron HQ in Thorney Close to see the cadets in action, enjoying activities such as climbing, radio communications, STEM and first aid.

I am extremely proud of all our young people who turned up proud and polished to represent the squadron

Flt Lt James Yeo

The squadron’s flight simulator was also demonstrated by young cadets who aspire to join the Royal Air Force as pilots.

Flight Lieutenant James Yeo, commanding officer, said: “I am extremely proud of all our young people who turned up proud and polished to represent the squadron at this important inspection.

“It’s a huge thing to be recognised as an excellent provider of training and activities, especially when there are several squadrons in the area, all providing a great experience.

“To be named as the top squadron in the North, is an incredible achievement.”

Now the cadets must compete against the five regional nominees from across the country in order to bring the trophy back to the region.

The trophy was last won by 111 (Sunderland) Squadron in 1994. Now, over 20 years later, the staff and cadets hope to wow the Commandant, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty with their skills and state of the art headquarters.

James added: “Getting this far wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the staff, cadets and parents, not to mention Broadway Junior School who have allowed us to use their excellent facilities.

“I know that we’ll put on an excellent show for the Commandant and, no matter what the outcome, we’ll know we did ourselves proud.”

The 111 Squadron is the Sunderland branch of the Air Training Corps, offering young people flying, gliding, sports, adventure training and nationally recognised qualifications.

The joining age is 12 years old and subscriptions currently cost £16 per month.

The Squadron meets at the headquartes in Tay Road every Tuesday and Friday evening from 6.45pm. For more information visit www.111squadronATC.co.uk.