One of the oldest squadrons in Scotland has issued a rallying cry to attract new volunteers as cadet numbers continue to rise after covid.
470 (Falkirk) Squadron was formed in February 1941 and its current Officer Commanding is Colin Gray.
Flight Lieutenant Gray said that while youngsters are embracing cadets again, like in almost every part of the UK, it is more of a challenge to attract volunteers to help run the squadron.
“We are quite fortunate as we can usually generate enough interest via our social media channels and word of mouth to keep us with a healthy number of recruits for our intakes, of which we have about three per year,” said Flt Lt Gray.
“The challenge facing us now is recruiting additional CFAVs to assist with the many activities and tasks within the squadron.
“To anyone thinking of volunteering with the RAF Air Cadets, I would say, “Go for it”.
“As a MOD-sponsored youth organisation, we are second to none, and training, guidance and help are all provided.
“Yes, it can be a challenge but when that once quiet, shy cadet feels comfortable enough to come and tell you what they have been up to or what they did at school, there is no feeling like it. It makes all the work and time away from home and family worthwhile.”
Flight Lieutenant Gray described how 470 (Falkirk) Sqn has always been a strong shooting squadron, gaining multiple shooting titles and trophies over the years.
It recently defended its Battle of Britain Trophy, which was run by the Council for Cadet Rifle Shooting (CCRS) who support shooting across all cadet services and organise events like the Inter Services Cadet Rifle Meeting (ISCRM) and the Cadet Inter-Services Skill at Arms Meeting (CISSAM).
Team Sgt Carnie, Cpl Gray, Cdt Fraser, Cdt Horsburgh, with Cdt Macrae as the reserve, made sure they retained the honours while Sgt Carnie was also the individual top shot of the competition after scoring 188 out of 200. Falkirk’s cadets also helped gain second place in the Punch Trophy, and the squadron also won the Shell Trophy. This is a competition where a three-person team are given one minute to shoot as many of the 12 clay coin-size discs off the target as quickly as possible, or who has the least number of discs left after the minute. Team members were Sgt Carnie, Cpl Gray and Cdt Horsburgh.
“The team's success is a fantastic honour for the squadron and is down to the time, effort and dedication put in by the shooting team cadets and supporting staff,” said said Flt Lt Gray. Supporting squadron staff are Sgt Derek Buist and CI Joseph Docherty.
Flt Lt Gray took over as OC in October 2019, transferring in from neighbouring 867 (Denny) Sqn where he had been a member of staff since 2016.
He had been an Army cadet as a youngster rising to the rank of Cadet Sergeant Major, then a volunteer. He joined 470 (Falkirk) Sqn when his daughter became an Air Cadet there.
“We are currently sitting around the 50 cadet mark, quite a healthy number with the usual cadet numbers fluctuating anywhere between 45 to 60.” said Flt Lt Gray, who works as the IT manager for Smith & McLaurin Limited in Johnstone, just outside Glasgow.
“The Covid break was disastrous for us, and I’m sure many other squadrons. We went into lockdown in 2020 with about 60 cadets on the books and lost about 50%, coming back into the squadron about 15 months later with just under 30, unfortunately, we lost some staff too, all the additional free time allowing them to re-evaluate their priorities or simply getting new interests.
“The challenge facing me now is recruiting additional CFAVs to assist with the many activities and tasks within the squadron. The message we want to get out there now is that we are recruiting so come and join us.”
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