A local branch of the Air Training Corps, the youth organisation that fits young people for life in the Royal Air Force as well as promoting and encouraging all the qualities that requires, enthusiastically celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ATC (also known as the Air Cadets) in a special event at their Bloxwich headquarters last Sunday.
196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC, based in Bloxwich, is commanded by Flt Lt Ian Averill RAF VR (T), who has, with the help of ATC colleagues, built the unit up over a number of years, starting with just nine members and currently peaking at forty, an impressive number for such a hard-working and disciplined organisation. Apart from their military training and participation in adventurous activities like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, the Squadron are also well known for their community work, with the cadets often to be seen helping out at charitable events such as the annual Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens’ Party.
Based in a purpose-built headquarters in Stokes Street which they share with local Army Cadets, 196 Squadron were all smartly turned out and on parade by 12.30pm. Sunday’s perfect weather made for the perfect occasion, and 196 Squadron also received a special guest, the Deputy Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Kath Phillips of Bloxwich, who together with her consort, was there to take part in the ceremonies, joining with the Squadron and with representatives of the Great Wyrley branch of the Royal British Legion, which has ‘adopted’ our local cadets, in making other presentations to cadets and members of the Legion.
The main event of the day was heralded by the arrival of a formal deputation of fellow ATC cadets of 240 (Darlaston) Squadron, who, with their OC (Officer Commanding) Flt Lt Steve Baker, turned up in style in a stretch limousine to present our local squadron with the very special Staffordshire Wing ATC 75th Anniversary Torch.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Corps, the torch is being passed around the Staffordshire and Black Country ATC squadrons, each of whom is able to use it in their own events and for inspiration for just one week before formally passing it on to the next group – in this case 425 (Aldridge) Squadron ATC, who will be receiving the torch next Sunday.
Despite a slight delay in the arrival of the torch, the event went off smartly and without a hitch as dignitaries, guests and rightly proud families of the cadets looked on as the Torch was formally passed from the Darlaston squadron to Walsall via two young cadets specially chosen to make the presentation.
The Deputy Mayor, guests and cadets’ families also had the opportunity to view displays of information and activities in the building’s Drill Hall and to partake of refreshments.
The Bloxwich Telegraph was delighted to be invited to attend and cover the ceremony, and here presents a few of the pictures taken, as well as a downloadable Flickr album covering the entire event, which may be found by clicking on the following link: