Woodley & Earley Air Cadets Reach New Heights

Twenty-five Air Cadets scaled new heights last weekend when they took part in their first climbing lessons at Reading Climbing Centre thanks to a Sportivate grant.

Sportivate is a Lottery funded London 2012 legacy project that gives young people opportunities to discover new sports and, from the reactions of the cadets from Woodley and Earley, climbing seems to have really taken off!

“Our Sportivate grant has given us the opportunity to run sessions for cadets to introduce them to climbing,” says Flight Sergeant Chris Harding of 1116 (Woodley) Squadron who has organised the training. “Even in the first session, the cadets were climbing the huge walls at Reading Climbing Centre and by the end of the project, they’ll have achieved climbing competency that will mean we can look at climbing outside next year as well.”

Adventure training and outdoor pursuits feature highly in the Air Cadet roster of activities and many of the staff are qualified instructors. However, being able to get so many of the local cadets trained and accredited means that they’ll be able to take part in more of the camps and courses that Air Cadets offer in the New Year.

“It was my first time climbing and Reading Climbing Centre is great,” says Cadet Lewis Bowers, 13. “Our instructors were really helpful and they encouraged you to try things you thought you might not be able to do because they know what you’re capable of. I did climb an overhang that was really difficult! I’m really looking forward to the next sessions already.”

And they’re not just learning about climbing as some of the older cadets are using this project to develop their sports coaching and mountain leader skills.

“I’ve been a keen climber since 2005,” says Chris Harding. “I’m delighted that this funding allows us to introduce so many new young people to a sport I love. The climbing facility at Reading is superb and it was clear that the cadets loved every minute.”

The cadets have more sessions before Christmas and another group will also start their instruction in the New Year.