Thetford Air Cadet squadron has been nominated for a national award

1109 Thetford Squadron on parade. Picture: Matthew Drewry

1109 Thetford Squadron on parade. Picture: Matthew Drewry - Credit: Archant

Three years ago, there were just 12 members of Thetford's Air Training Corps (ATC) on parade.

Now 1109 Squadron has 55 cadets who attend the organisation twice a week and 15 eager youngsters ready to join.

The squadron's recruitment success is one of the reasons it has been nominated for a national award which recognises improvement.

The ATC's Marshall Trophy is awarded to the most improved squadron over a period of time - usually three years.

Thetford was nominated from the Norfolk and Suffolk Wing of the ATC - which consist of 30 squadrons.

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Cadets and staff are currently waiting to see if they have been chosen as the Central and East Region's most improved squadron before they make the final. They should know by next month.

Officer Commanding 1109 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Sam Chapman-Allen, said the nomination reflects the commitment of the staff, volunteers, cadets and parents. He said: 'It was a complete shock that we were nominated. We hope we are successful. The cadets and staff should be really proud.

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'We have built it up from a tiny staff team of two who stayed on to five uniformed staff and three civilian instructors.

'We are different. We are really family orientated. The cadet's families come to the sport events and cheer.'

The squadron meets at RAF Barnham every Tuesday and Thursday night from 7pm until 9.30pm.

Youngsters can learn to shoot and fly, are taught first aid and taken on camps in both Britain and abroad where they can take part in a range of adventurous activities. A number of BTEC qualifications and leadership courses can also be taken.

Youngsters can join the ATC from 12 years of age.

Staff Cadet Kathryn Towell has been a member of 1109 Squadron for six years.

The 19-year-old, who lives in Thetford, said: 'There is something for everyone. You can get qualifications out of it and you get to meet all kinds of people at camps and competitions. Some of my best friends live in Scotland.

'It's a busy lifestyle but it is worth it. My only regret is I didn't join sooner.'

For more information visit 1109 Thetford Squadron Air Cadets on Facebook or visit the ATC website

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