This month saw 2375 (Neston) Squadron visited by Air Commodore Dawn McCaffery, RAFR, Commandant Air Cadets, to present Cadet Warrant Officer Natalie Fields with the highly prized Dacre Brooch, for being chosen as the best female Cadet in the Air Training Corps.
The Dacre Brooch is the highest award any female Air Cadet can achieve. In 1979, Mrs Elizabeth Dacre MBE TD JP presented to the Air Training Corps the dress sword of her late husband, Air Commodore G B Dacre CBE DSO DL RAF to be presented to the “ATC Cadet of the Year.” With the advent of girls in 1982, Mrs Dacre presented the Corps with a diamond brooch mounted on a sash, for presentation to the best female cadet.
Since 1983, the Dacre Sword and the Dacre Brooch have been awarded annually, with selection being based on the all-round performance of the cadets nominated firstly by their Wing Headquarters, and, then by their Regional Commandants.
The Squadron, VIPs from Wing Headquarters and Regional Headquarters, along with members of Natalie’s family, all gathered at the Royal British Legion Neston for the presentation. The Air Commodore outlined the history of the Dacre Brooch, and the process in deciding who should gain the coveted award. She then went on to outline Natalie’s achievements.
Since joining the Air Cadet Organisation at the age of 13, Natalie has managed to gain a Flying Scholarship, Gliding Wings, Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, a BTEC in Public Services and BTEC in Aviation Studies. She was also an ambassador for the Corps when she took part in the 2013 International Air Cadet Exchange to The Netherlands. She has also attended numerous camps, both at home and abroad.
Natalie has also been a keen sports person, taking part in all sports at Squadron, Wing, Region and Corps levels.
It hasn’t all been take, she has enjoyed raising awareness and funds for local and national charities; examples are, Help for Heroes, Stick ‘n’ Step (a local cerebral palsy charity), RAFA, The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, Northern Lights and the squadron. She has done so through, collections, bag-packs, sponsored bicycle ride, and, through selling cakes at her school.
Natalie said “Today, I stand here as the 2013 Dacre Brooch winner. I’m very humbled to receive this award. I know this means a lot, to lots of people, and I’d like to say a very big thank you to all the staff of 2375 (Neston) Squadron, Wing staff, Regional Staff and my family. If it wasn’t for their commitment, which is all voluntary, all the cadets and I wouldn’t be able to experience the things that we do.”
From here, she is hoping for a, career in the RAF in Air Traffic Control. But for now, she is putting her energy in to giving something back to the squadron and helping other cadets achieve.
The Officer Commanding 2375 (Neston) Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Paul Thelwell said: “Natalie has been in cadets for over 5 years, and with a little help from the staff and the squadron, has achieved the ultimate prize a female cadet can achieve. A totally dedicated cadet, the cadet warrant officer is the first to cadet to obtain this aware on the squadron, and only the second female cadet in Merseyside to win it. Natalie would love to pursue her career in the RAF, and, I am sure that this award will stand her in good stead.”