News & Events
30 June 2011
- 1855 (Royton) Sqn finish second and scoop the Morris Trophy
- 282 (East Ham) Sqn win the brand new Commandant's Special Award
Cadets and staff at 215 (Swansea) Squadron are celebrating after they scooped the prestigious Lees Trophy and in the process took the title of the UK’s top Air Training Corps unit.
The announcement was made by Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Barbara Cooper, just over a month after traditional inspections of the finalists began.
The Lees Trophy is awarded annually to the squadron which is deemed the best in the UK. Six squadrons, one from each of the Air Cadet Organisation’s regions make it through to the final round, where they are each inspected by Commandant Air Cadets.
After announcing the winner, Air Commodore Barbara Cooper said: "Once again the competition was extremely close and involved an excellent bunch of squadrons. As always picking a winner proved to be a very hard decision, but 215 (Swansea) Squadron fully deserve the accolade."
Finishing in second place was 1855 (Royton) Sqn, who despite putting on an extremely successful inspection, was just piped to the top award, but still collected the runners-up prize - the Morris Trophy.
The inspection of 1855 squadron began for Air Commodore Cooper with tea at the nearby Civic Centre with the Mayor of Oldham, before going on to visit the squadron itself.
Once there the Commandant was extremely impressed by what the cadets and staff of Royton had to offer. Their trophy winning presentation included activities such as the creatively named Red Barrows Wheelbarrow Display Team, a performance from the squadron’s competition winning band and a demonstration of each of the ACO’s core subjects.
But it was a consistent and impressive inspection evening involving more than 100 cadets and staff at a Territorial Army Centre in Morfa, Wales, which helped win 215 (Swansea) the Lees Trophy.
The inspection, which took more than three hours, saw cadets parade in front of the Commandant and highlight the type of community work and qualifications that they have achieved over the past 12 months.
Speaking about the impressive evening that his cadets had produced, Commanding Officer 215 (Swansea) Sqn, Sqn Ldr Phil Flower said: “We had 111 cadets on parade that evening, which was phenomenal in itself. The inspection focused on everything that we do, from our flying and gliding courses to our DofE Award winners and community work.
“The cadets were fantastic on the evening and they helped raise the bar on the evening. Unfortunately we had planned to hold the parade at the Liberty Stadium - home of Swansea City Football Club, but the weather didn’t quite hold-up.”
The squadron, which has been awarded the Lees Trophy twice in the past years, is one of the biggest overall units in the UK. Sqn Ldr Flower puts that success down to the discipline of the squadron.
He concluded: “We are all delighted to win the Lees Trophy for the fourth time in our history. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is, our cadets are all treated the same way. Our unit is just like a family and is helped by the fact that we maintain a healthy level of discipline. When people join at 13 they are treated like an adult and are taught to make their own decisions.”
While winning the Lees Trophy may be seen as the ultimate goal – and it is certainly an incredible achievement – there can only be one winner and one runner-up. There are, however, many squadrons in the ACO doing remarkable things on a day-to-day basis.
Air Commodore Cooper has, therefore, decided to instigate a new award, The Commandant’s Special Award, which may be presented each year (if it is warranted) to an individual, a squadron or unit – indeed anyone that, in the Commandant’s opinion, merits formal recognition.
The Commandant’s Special Award for 2011 goes to 282 (East Ham) Squadron. While East Ham’s work came to the Commandant’s attention during the Lees Trophy inspection tour, it is not in any way a consolation prize. It is an award in its own right for the remarkable work being done by a small and relatively inexperienced team of volunteers in a challenging inner city environment.
* More pictures to follow soon.