Air cadets from Tynemouth flew to the rescue when the call came to help tidy up Bolam Lake Country Park.

The youngsters from 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC swapped their attention from the skies to the ground when they spent the day at the Northumberland beauty spot as part of an ongoing conservation project.

The group alongside their Officer Commanding, Flt Lt Dan Laidler, and adjutant David Carter, cleared an extensive area of rhododendrons that were choking the trees by the visitor centre.

The rhododendrons will now be mulched and used to help repair footpaths at the park near Morpeth with its lake, woodlands and abundant wildlife, including roe deer, great spotted woodpeckers and red squirrels.

Flt Lt Laidler said: “As part of the volunteering section for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme we are always looking for community projects that our cadets can get involved in and that will help develop their skills.

“The cadets worked with enthusiasm on what was a hot summer’s day, and we achieved more than we had hoped for.

“This was a great example of a youth group giving up its free time for the benefit of the wider community.”
Among the cadets who gave up their Sunday was Corporal Ethan Lloyd, 15. He said: “It was hard work but we had a lot of fun doing it and the camaraderie was fantastic.

“It was great for morale and it was good to be outdoors doing something that you know is worthwhile for the community. It’s nice to know that everyone made the effort to give up their weekend to give something back to others.”

This is not the first time 346 squadron has helped out at Bolam Lake Country Park and the cadets, who are all aged from 13 to 18, will be back later in the summer to carry out more conservation work.

Community work is just one of many activities cadets can become involved in.

The squadron, which meets on Tuesday and Friday nights at its headquarters in Military Road, North Shields, also runs a full calendar of confidence boosting activities from flying and gliding days to adventure training, the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, shooting and field craft and has a successful military band.

In July a party of 346 squadron cadets will be flying to South Africa on an adventure and teaching expedition as well as to undertake voluntary community work.

Cadets can also study for a BTEC diploma in aviation skills and regular training camps are organised at RAF and other military bases across the UK. In August ATC members from across the North East led by Flt Lt Laidler will be heading off to RAF Odiham – a frontline support helicopter base – in north Hampshire for a week.

Whilst there they will take part in navigation exercises, flying, station visits and night training as well as outings to local attractions.

New recruits are welcomed at 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron and are issued with a free uniform. Those interested in joining or wanting more information should email Flt Lt Laidler at oc.346@aircadets.org.