Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited Cadets and volunteers at 282 (East Ham) Squadron in April 2021. This was a unique opportunity to pay respects to the life of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who served as Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps for an incredible 63 years, before handing the Royal Patronage to The Duchess of Cambridge in 2015, who is now the Royal Air Force Air Cadets Honorary Air Commandant.
During the visit some 20 Cadets proudly showed the Royal couple fieldcraft demonstrations and leadership tasks. The Duke and Duchess also spoke to several young Cadets who are preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.
Hosting the visit was Regional Commandant for the London and South East Region, Grp Capt Al Lewis. He said, “Today it was a great honour to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, especially at such a significant time of Royal Mourning. It was fitting to mark the wonderful contribution to young people that the late Prince Philip made. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme that bears his name has given so many young people a great start in life. Meeting the Honorary Air Commandant, the Duchess of Cambridge, has also been a fantastic way for the Cadets and staff to start the 2021 season after such a long pause during the winter Covid lockdown.”
The Officer Commanding 282 (East Ham) Squadron, Squadron Leader Chris Booty, said:
“It’s been a very tough year for all of our 960 Cadet squadrons and for 282 in particular having only opened again last Monday. Today has been an amazing opportunity for the Cadets and it has put a huge smile on their faces. Today signifies that a year of troubles is now coming to an end with the new hope that things are going to improve. The Cadets and staff needed some encouragement after such a long layoff. They have got straight back into it to prepare for the visit and the year ahead; what a great way to reopen!”
The Duke and Duchess also spoke with a group of serving RAF personnel who were all previously Cadets and heard more about how taking part in the Air Cadets and its core activities, including The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, allowed them to gain important life and social skills which they have taken forward into their careers. Amongst them was Flight Lieutenant Sarah Haywood, Staff Officer to Commandant Air Cadets, and Air Commodore Tony Keeling.
At the end of the visit, the Squadron took part in a Three Cheers Salute in honour of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.