Carol Vorderman speaks of joy as International Aviation Academy opens in Norwich
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
TV star Carol Vorderman spoke with joy about the progress made in giving everybody the chance to pursue a career in aviation, as she officially opened Norwich's £12m International Aviation Academy.
Ms Vorderman, 56, told an audience of about 100 at the state-of-the-art facility at Norwich Airport today (Saturday, August 5) about her long-held dream to learn to fly - something that seemed impossible when she was growing up in Rhyl, north Wales.
She said: 'When I was born in the days of black-and-white television all I wanted to be was a pilot.
'But it was an area where nobody ever spoke about aviation.
'I eventually got into Cambridge to study engineering but I wasn't allowed to join the university air squadron at that time because I was a girl.
'But things have progressed dramatically.'
Ms Vorderman said she got her first pilot's licence when she was 53, and she is now a Royal Air Force Cadets ambassador.
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She said the new academy would offer new opportunities to young people who held the same dreams as her.
Ms Vorderman said: 'It's wonderful to be a part of that progress and part of something that's offering a genuine future to young people, girls and boys alike.'
READ MORE: Can you solve these 10 Norfolk conundrums ahead of Carol 'Countdown' Vorderman's Norwich visit?Ms Vorderman was joined by air commodore Dawn McAfferty, commandant of the RAF cadets, and they stood together as Ms Vorderman cut a ribbon to decare the new centre open.
The academy is based in a former Second World War aircraft hangar, which now houses a full-size Boeing 737 has been housed so that students can hone their skills.
Twenty-six degree-level students began training in April, and will be joined by a further 100 16-year-old engineering students when the new academic year starts in September.
Aviation Skills Partnership chief executive Simon Witts said he was delighted the academy would put Norwich firmly back at the centre of the UK's aviation industry.
READ MORE: Students brush up on career paths in north Norfolk at growing jobs eventHe said: 'This is a world first - it's the first time that the training required for aviation has been brought together in one building.
'We class Norwich as one of the birthplaces of aviation in the UK. 100 years ago Norwich was busy building 5,000 aircraft for the First World War effort.
'The aviation industry is a viable one in Norfolk and this is a great opportunity to build on that.'
Partners of the project include Norfolk County Council, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, KLM UK Engineering, City College Norwich and the University of East Anglia.