New Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, has made an informal visit to 136 (Chipping Norton) Squadron – his first visit to an Air Cadet unit as PM – to meet cadets and staff. Mr Cameron lives close to the Squadron, as the MP for Witney, and was invited to the unit by a parent of a cadet.
After inspecting the cadets, he spoke informally about the importance of the armed forces adding “the cadets are the future of the armed forces” and how, as an ex-cadet himself with Eton CCF, he understands the importance of the Cadets Forces.
Cadet Jack Franklin, 17, explains “This evening we had the Prime Minister, David Cameron, up to look at our Squadron – he inspected the grounds and saw what we do, our uniform and then gathered us into a semi-circle for an informal chat”.
Corporal Erin Soper, 15 said “we were explaining what we do at the Air Cadets and what we enjoy most about it. We said about flying, shooting, field craft and drill”.
Cadet Christine Haine, 15, was one the cadets who talked to the PM “he told us all about his visits to Afghanistan and how he used to be in the cadets himself – he was really nice, really chatty and really informative. The visit was really good – it’s not every day you get to meet the Prime Minister – it was a great feeling to have met him”.
Afterwards Flight Lieutenant Richard Hogan, the Squadron Commander, made a brief presentation to the Prime Minister on how Chipping Norton cadets are able to learn how to fly and glide, are involved in further education programmes such as BTEC, take part in competitive sports and how ex-cadets who join the RAF drop out less during recruit training. Flight Lieutenant Hogan was impressed with the PM’s message and knowledge “he understands that the armed forces are important and subsequently the cadet forces are also very important to the country – he also talked about some of the different aircraft and deployments that he has been on in the last 5 years”.
Squadron President, Brigadier Jonny Rickett CBE said “I’ve been very honoured to come down tonight and see the Prime Minister visit us – it was obvious he enjoyed his visit. What I was impressed with was the way that he talked to the cadets, looked extremely enthusiastic and interested in what they said. He got a good response from the cadets here tonight. He gave a message of hope – he showed that he very much had the armed forces at heart and that being a cadet is a jolly good start to life”.
To finish the evening the Prime Minister presented Warrant Officer Tony Pick with his Cadet Forces Medal. The Prime Minister won a chopping board in a Squadron raffle two weeks previously, which he collected during the evening. He was also presented with a Chipping Norton Squadron Plaque, both of which he promised to use at No 10.
Cadet Alex Chance, 14, summed up the experience “it was a really good experience for us and, hopefully, the Prime Minister, because we got to show him what we do here and what we give to the local community – in return he told us about his experiences as well. It was kind off hard to believe I was talking with the PM!”.