On the 25th June the Tony Ginman and myself visited our Air Cadet unit on their training night. The Master had planned to attend but an urgent appointment took precedence and our Senior Warden stepped in at short notice. I have to say the journey by car was not a straightforward one, taking us both much longer than expected. We did however arrive within minutes of each other and “seconds” to spare before 1st Parade (phew)!

A quick cup of coffee and an outline brief for the evening, we were then escorted by a cadet into the main hanger for band practice. All the cadets were lined up in their “instrument groups” ready for the off. Two long tables with practice table drums, a line of glockenspiels and a lone trumpeter. Every cadet has the opportunity to learn how to play the musical instruments and as they progress badges of proficiency are awarded. Tony was a bit of a dab-hand with his drumsticks and under instruction was soon beating out a rhythm, maybe not quite up to Massed Band levels but pretty good nevertheless.

From drums to flying lessons and onto the flight assimilator. Now this one our Senior Warden has had previous experience on and soon took control, easily navigating over the Southern English countryside. I didn’t fare quite as well as Tony since I was “literally flying in the dark and couldn’t see for toffees”. Well, that was my excuse!

Life-saving first aid where our all-time favourite lady – Resusci Annie was waiting for us to breath some life into her – Think we saved her but not so much as a smile or a thank you, so no longer on my Christmas card list! Then a stroll across the road for a quick lesson in archery, me thinks that last year’s archery champion Maid Marion (Donna Berry) put us both to shame!

Back into the compound for a command task briefing: three teams of four cadets under our leadership had to get a bucket full of plastic balls across a 20ft gap into an empty bucket using just two lengths of plastic guttering. The hard bit was once the team were briefed; we couldn’t talk. Both Tony and my teams did well but I had to admit defeat by two balls!

The cadets were then formed up in three ranks, oh look two empty spaces says Sqn Ldr Mark Bird, fall in he says. A few minutes of Square Bashing under the command of one very senior cadet who knew his stuff, at least he had a sense of humour! This was a “replacing headdress” move, not hide and seek!

All too soon our evening came to a finale with the squadron formed up for final parade. As guest of honour, Tony was asked by Mark to present a number of challenge coins to several cadets. These were to celebrate 85 years since the formation of the squadron.

As the evening came to a close, the Senior Warden addressed the parade, thanking them for a wonderful evening and commending them all for their turnout and enthusiasm. It was with great pleasure that Tony was able to present the squadron with a cheque on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers by way of our annual donation.

Our thanks to Sqn Ldr Mark Bird and all those present for their continued support and we look forward to their presence at Mansion House.