Air cadets are flying high after fundraising efforts to buy a new state-of-the-art flight simulator were given a surprise cash boost.

346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps needs the piece of high tech kit so cadets can experience the thrills and potential spills of taking to the skies while keeping their feet firmly on the ground.

Now the cadets bid to raise the £3000 needed have really taken off after their willingness to go the extra mile when called on to volunteer at the recent Tynemouth Food Festival earned them the unexpected £200 gift.

Festival organisers Tynemouth Business Forum (TBF) decided to make the donation after being impressed by the cadets’ dedication and exemplary behaviour over the course of the two day event held earlier this month [MAY].

And TBF vice chair Mark Stutt was on hand to present the £200 cheque to the squadron at their last parade evening.

Mr Stutt said: “The cadets answered the call for volunteers to help at what has become one of the region’s largest food festivals.

“Despite facing some tough challenges with the weather and coping with the thousands of people who flocked to the event, everyone involved from the organisers’ to the stallholders and visitors were impressed not just with the cadets’ professionalism but their commitment and cheerfulness.

“They really did go beyond the call of duty and Tynemouth Business Forum was unanimous in its decision to make the donation to a scheme which works to support the area’s young people.

“The pleasure in gifting the money has been made all the more pleasing by knowing that none of the cadets expected to be rewarded for their efforts. We are delighted to know that the cash is going to be put to such good use in helping the cadets gain the confidence and skills they need.”

The squadron’s commander, Pilot Officer Dan Laidler, added: “I am really proud of all the girls and boys who volunteered their time at the festival. They were a credit to the young people of Tynemouth and the Air Cadet Organisation.

“We are really grateful that Tynemouth Business Forum has supported the squadron in this way and it is nice that the cadets can see their efforts were appreciated. Though unexpected, doing community service has given them something back.

“The money will go a long way towards our goal of buying a new flight simulator.”

The cadets – who are allied to the Royal Air Force – are undertaking a range of fundraising activities from bag packing at the local supermarket to sponsored events.

346 (Tynemouth) Squadron was formed in February 1941 and is one of the UK’s oldest air training corps, originally set-up to help train young pilots in the Second World War.

The squadron, which meets twice a week at its headquarters in Military Road, North Shields, currently has around 40 young men and women between the ages of 13 and 20 attending.

Cadets do a range of exciting activities from flying and gliding to adventure training, shooting and the Duke of Edinburgh awards programme. They can even study for a BTEC diploma in aviation skills.

Regular training camps are organised at RAF bases across the UK and next year a group of cadets will be flying off to South Africa on an adventure and teaching expedition as well as to undertake voluntary community work.

Any potential cadets interested in joining 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron or wanting more information should email: oc.346@aircadets.org.

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