An enormous thank you to Squadron Leader Mark Bird, Officer Commanding, and his team and his wonderful cadets for an enjoyable and memorable visit that put Lightmongers through their paces on 12th April 2022 at the Cadet Centre at Woolwich Barracks.

Master Margaret Fitzsimons, Deputy Master Fr Peter Harris, Senior Warden Jamie Berry, and Cadet Liaison Officer Phil Webb started their evening by inspecting the troops, who were extremely well turned out for the visit.  Our first challenge was to think of different questions to ask everyone on parade.  Not easy I can assure you!

Cadets ready for inspection

Cadet Liaison Officer Phil Webb and Master Margaret Fitzsimons conjure up questions.

We also met the new recruits, in school uniform, who will spend about ten weeks on an induction programme before becoming cadets.

After the inspection and welcome refreshments, it was time to get down to some serious challenges.  We were divided into teams of two, given a crash course in several skills by the cadets and then marked on our performance.  Lightmongers are very competitive people, so we were all under pressure to do well.

We learnt some drumming techniques:  A perfect example of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing!

Phil Webb showing he’s got rhythm with the help of Cdt Harry Allen, Vjordi Hila & Conrad Trillana 

Archery:  the senior warden excelled here despite being a left hander and having to shoot his bow in a rather ungainly manner.  The Master is convinced that she was given blunted arrows.


The Archers 

   Deputy Master Fr Peter Harris takes aim

We had a go at flying a plane on a simulator:   the Master managed to not only crash the virtual plane but crash the entire flight simulation system too!


Learning to fly the plane with Cadet Tom Livingstone and Calum Plenderleith

A virtual reality flight:  the moving chair added to the experience


Jamie Berry AKA Top Gun’s  Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell with guidance from Cadet Dovas Bauzys

First Aid and CPR techniques:  no mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because of covid!


Radio techniques and the NATO Phonetic Alphabet with Cadet Corporal Simon Anderson:  Difficult to think of your ABCs quickly.


Field Craft and Sentry Duty with Cadet Flight Sergeant Arvjo Koderli:  it was great fun barking out orders and asking for passwords from the incoming forces.  I think we all got carried away with our wooden guns.  Did you ever think you would see the Deputy Master aiming a gun at anyone and looking so happy about it?

Leadership skills:  a complicated task requiring the Team to get ‘radio-active material’ from A to B without touching, within a certain time period.   Lots of speed and concentration required here.


We also took part in a class about health and safety for the new recruits.

New recruits in school uniform watch a video with their tutor
to learn about the importance of hydration as part of their
health and safety induction.

Squadron Leader Mark Bird, then re-assembled the cadets on the floodlit parade ground (floodlighting courtesy of Lightmongers) and announced the results of each task.  You will be pleased to know Lightmongers showed that each was best at something.

Our last task of the day was to present Essentials of First Aid badges and certificates to about 30 of the cadets.  Two cadets were presented with the Jack Petchey achievement award by the Master.

The Master presents the Jack Petchey Achievement Awards to two worthy winners voted by their peers. Cadets Vjordi Hila and Mary Olukayode

No Lightmonger could fail to be impressed by what is being achieved at the 56 (Woolwich) Squadron.  Young people from the Woolwich area are gaining skills and behaviours that will be essential if they progress into the military and invaluable in any career they may pursue.

Apart from the diverse skills themselves, they are learning teamwork, leadership, how to interact in stressful situations, politeness, and the importance of presenting themselves well.  They show a degree of knowledge and professionalism that is heart-warming to see and will set them apart in any competitive job interview.

Squadron Leader Mark Bird and his highly-motivated team should be justifiably proud of what they are achieving with the cadets and the Lightmongers are extremely proud to be affiliated with them.

Thank you to Squadron Leader Mark Bird, Officer Commanding, and his inspiring team.

The Lightmongers Charitable Trust was pleased to make a financial contribution to our affiliated cadet unit at the end of the visit, which was presented by the Master.

You can find out more about 56 (Woolwich) Squadron at this link:  About Us | 56 Squadron