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A taste of adventure for youngsters

PUBLISHED: 11:02 07 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:22 06 July 2010

The 469 (Lowestoft) Squadron Air Training Corps at RAF Larburch, in July 1989.

The 469 (Lowestoft) Squadron Air Training Corps at RAF Larburch, in July 1989.

OFFERING the chance to learn a musical instrument, join together in a wide range of activities and even experience a flight, the 469 (Lowestoft) Squadron Air Training Corps has given a lot to generations of local youngsters.

Former cadet James Coleby has gone on to become a major in the Coldstream Guards.

OFFERING the chance to learn a musical instrument, join together in a wide range of activities and even experience a flight, the 469 (Lowestoft) Squadron Air Training Corps has given a lot to generations of local youngsters.

It all began back on February 15, 1941, just two weeks after the formation of the corps, an organisation that aimed to provide the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm with semi-trained personnel.

The subjects to be taught included maths, magnetism, navigation, Morse code and wireless, and by the time of the inaugural meeting at the Town Hall on March 17, 1941, almost 100 boys between 16 and 18 had signed on.

Over the next 68 years, thousands of local young people have been through the ATC.

Among those was Sgt Sally Brown who went on the join the Army after spending six years with 469 squadron.

Sally was brought up in Lowestoft, joined the ATC at the age of 13, in 1988, and is now a sergeant in the Adjutant General's Corps.

“I always speak very highly of the ATC and think it is a wonderful organisation, offering fantastic opportunities to youngsters. I thoroughly took advantage of all such chances offered to me in my teenage years, being lucky enough to go to annual camps to RAF stations all over the UK and Cyprus (where I flew in a Red Arrow), flying, gliding, shooting and all the other activities offered,” she said.

“I reached my Gold in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, carried out adventure training all over the UK and the pinnacle of my cadet days was being selected to attend the International Air Cadet Exchange for three weeks in Hong Kong in August 1994.”

In 1989, Sally was a part of the squadron band that was asked to play at the Nijmegan marches, in Holland,

“It was a very prestigious event to be asked to do and one which the whole of the squadron at the time was very honoured to be part of. I was only 14 at the time, hadn't been an air cadet very long and it was my first trip away from home ever; quite an adventure!

“The squadron was accommodated at RAF Larbruch camp, in Germany, for a whole week and we were all treated to all the usual activities at ATC camps and various trips out and about. It was a fantastic experience that all of us ex-cadets from that era remember with great fondness.”

The end of last month marked 20 years since this special occasion but many of the squadron are still in touch with one another.

Iain Rushmere went on to be a flight lieutenant in the RAF; Richard Gooding spent 10 years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, served with the Queen's Dragoon Guards and various other units; Matt Benson joined the Royal Artillery, while Jamie Scott, Paul Bragg and Richard Wills all joined the Royal Air Force.

Other cadets of the time included Jamie Thomas who is now a sergeant in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and James Coleby who is a major in the Coldstream Guards.

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