The RAF Air Cadets National Choir perform in Lincoln for one of their biggest concerts yet.
36 cadets, a small band and a dedicated team of volunteers gathered at RAF Cranwell for five days of intense practise before performing at their first ever ticketed concert at the Lincoln Drill Hall.
The Lincoln Drill Hall is a former military training centre, which made a fitting setting for the latest performance by the RAF Air Cadets Choir, as they delivered a 23 song show to a near sell-out crowd.
The concert is only their fourth major performance since their conception in 2016 as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the RAF Air Cadets, with their show in Lincoln forming part of the commemorations to mark RAF100 – the centenary of the Royal Air Force.
The evening featured an eclectic mix of hits from Adele, Les Misérables, Frozen and more to showcase the wide variety of talents from the cadets that have travelled from as far north as Thurso in the Highlands to Sevenoaks in Kent.
VIPs in attendance included former Chief of the Air Staff Sir Michael Grayson and Lady Grayson, Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Bill Skelly, Commandant Air Cadets Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Regional Commandant of the London and South Region of the Air Cadets Group Captain Al Lewis and the Military Wives Choir. Many parents of the cadets performing had also bought tickets to attend.
Although singing isn’t a typical RAF Air Cadets activity, it develops skills that the organisation strives to embed in its members such as teamwork, communication, commitment, confidence, resilience and responsibility.
The choir is led by Director of Music Squadron Leader Dave Massam and the Deputy Director of Music Sergeant Ben Richards with a small, dedicated team of additional volunteers as support staff.
Squadron Leader Dave Massam said: “I was contacted in 2016 for the 75th anniversary of the RAF Air Cadets, and our primary aim at the point was to get a little group together to sing some songs and enjoy it.
“After that we did really well so Commandant Air Cadets wanted the project to be on going and here we are three years later.”
“I feel great about the performance at the Drill Hall. I’m really looking forward to it as it gives us the opportunity to showcase some of the young talent the Air Cadets has to offer so I’m really excited.
“Singing may not be a normal thing you’d associate with the air cadets but it still gives you all the skills you need such as teamwork, resilience, working with others and confidence is a massive thing it can help build it, so all of those skills come forward in what we do.”
“We want to keep growing as much as possible, we are constantly being invited to more things so we want to get people from across the CCF and air cadets from across the country so we can make sure we have a good mix.”
Sergeant Maddy Thorpe said: “I’m in the sopranos so we have to ‘sing to the heavens’ and I try and offer a positive attitude within our group especially and try and offer help which is reciprocated, so whenever I’m stuck with anything we work together as a team.”
“A big part of the camp for me is getting to do my solo. It’s lovely because it’s a song I’ve known for such a long time and it’s important to me so getting to perform it and then sing as a unit with a load of people from all over the country that I wouldn’t have met have I not joined the choir is really special.”
Cadet Matty Johnson said: “This is my first time in the choir. I’ve always had a passion for singing and I’ve just loved it.
“I was there was a national choir in the Air Cadets, and I love Cadets and I love singing so I joined the choir.”
“I’d definitely recommend the Cadets to anyone. The Air Cadets is amazing, you learn so many new things from it.”
Craig Mattick said: “This is my first time at any air cadet camp and I’ve found it really good and fun so far. My favourite song to perform is the Blues Brothers.”
The evening was extra special for Matty and Craig as they were both awarded the Director’s Awards for their performance and attitude for the whole length of the camp.
Flight Sergeant Elle Donnelly said: “I’m one of the more senior singers as I’ve been in choir for two years now and I’m an alto so I’m just the tune of every song basically”
“The performance at the Drill Hall my last ever event as a cadet as I age out in a couples of months’ time so it’s a good high to end on.”
Elle was also given the Deputy Director’s Award to truly end her Air Cadet and Choir experience on a high, she will soon be moving to university to study English but hopes to return to Merseyside to become an adult volunteer in a few years.
The evening was compered by Acting Pilot Officer Amanda Male and was also supported by the Bandmaster Pilot Officer Steven Lee, Cadet Patrick Ahern on drums and Corporal Louis Briggs on guitar.
All profits raised from the concert will be donated to the RAF100 appeal, RAF Air Cadets and projects supported by the Lincoln Drill Hall.
Auditions for the National Choir will open in September which will include a written application and sending in an audition video. More details on how to apply can be found on bader or the RAFAC National Choir Facebook page.
Images by Squadron Leader Philip Jones.