Generous Christmas shoppers’ who were treated to festive music and military efficiency at the tills, have helped air cadets’ bag nearly £1,000 for their squadron.

The youngsters from 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps played Christmas carols and packed customers bags as they took to the shop floor at Asda Benton Superstore.

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And the cadets’ efforts on one of the busiest Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas paid off as they raised £985.51.

Officer Commanding, Flt Lt Dan Laidler, said he was astounded by the generosity of shoppers.

“Our collection buckets were jingling along with the festive music played so brilliantly by the Squadron’s brass ensemble.

“A brass band has become a distinctive and traditional part of the Christmas festivities, and shoppers really enjoyed the mix of carols and other seasonal music that welcomed them to Asda.

“There was a really good-humoured atmosphere in the store, and I can’t thank shoppers enough for their generosity. I have been astounded by how much we have raised.

“The build-up to Christmas can be very stressful, and I hope the enthusiasm of both our musicians and the cadets’ bag packing skills on the tills, helped ease some of that pressure.”

The bag pack was arranged by 346’s Civilian Committee, which oversees the welfare of cadets and is charged with raising money to help pay for new equipment, and off-Squadron sporting, educational, and adventure training activities.

It is not widely known that while the Air Cadet Organisation is affiliated to the RAF, it is a registered charity and must raise its own funds.

Flt Lt Laidler said: “As a Squadron we provide ongoing charitable support every year for among others the Poppy and Royal Air Force Association Wings Appeals. The bag pack has given us the chance to raise funds for ourselves.

“We would all like to thank Asda Benton Superstore for giving us the opportunity to bag pack and raise such a phenomenal sum. Every penny raised will make a positive difference and ensure our cadets will continue to enjoy a packed and varied programme of activities well into 2017.”

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These will include everything from flying and gliding at RAF stations, to UK and overseas camps at military bases, shooting, adventure training activities such as climbing and mountain biking, competitive sports, the option to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, gain training and BTEC qualifications, and play in the band.

Tynemouth Squadron has a successful military band. Many of its members currently play in the Durham/Northumberland Wing Band which is overseen by Flt Lt Laidler, and which recently won the Air Cadet Organisation National Band Championships at RAF Halton – making it the best in the UK.

Flt Lt Laidler said the bag pack had positively helped raise the profile of 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron.

“Youngsters often get a bad press, but many shoppers complimented our cadets on their courtesy, efficiency, self-confidence, and appearance. We pride ourselves on giving our cadets the chance to engage positively with both school life and the local community.”

The squadron meets twice a week on Tuesday and Friday nights at its headquarters in Military Road, North Shields. New recruits aged 12 years and over are welcomed and are issued with a free uniform.