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Inverness air cadets rated best in north of Scotland in prestigious Royal Air Force award

By Alasdair Fraser

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The award-winning Air Training Corps Squadron 161 (1st Highland)
The award-winning Air Training Corps Squadron 161 (1st Highland)

An Inverness air cadets squadron is up in the clouds after being named the best of 28 units in the north of Scotland.

The announcement delighted officers and budding Royal Air Force pilots attached to local Air Training Corps Squadron 161 (1st Highland) who are based at the city’s Montague Row.

The Highland capital unit was reviewed as part of the coveted UK-wide Sir Alan Lees Trophy competition to find the overall best squadron of RAF air cadets.

Units are reviewed on their effectiveness in delivering the RAF air cadets national syllabus of training.

It was a measure of its cadets’ success and achievements in gaining awards such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award,first aid, and flying and gliding scholarships.

Also assessed are sporting achievements, contribution to the local community, adventurous training activity and academic training in aviation subjects, all of which lead to nationally recognised BTEC awards equivalent to four GCSE passes.

The Inverness squadron was judged to be the best for 2023 in all of those areas in the North Scotland Wing, winning the McRobert Trophy.

That will be presented at a special event later in the year at Douneside House, Aberdeenshire.

Squadron 161 (1st Highland) will now go forward to represent the Wing for the Scotland & Northern Ireland Regional Review and then, if successful, possible overall Corps review to vie for the overall Lees Trophy.

Neil Jack, the squadron’s commanding officer, said: “We are overjoyed to be announced as the best squadron of North Scotland Wing for 2023 and winners of the McRobert Trophy.

“The cadets and adult volunteers have worked extremely hard over the year and it’s amazing to be recognised for our achievements.

“Those have seen cadets earning their aviation wings and qualifying in many advanced stages of our progressive training syllabus, not only achieving SCQF level 5 and 6 grades for the academic studies, but BTEC work in aviation studies.

“The trophy will be presented later in the year at a specially prepared ceremony and our Regional reviewing visit will be in March when we will compete as the Best Squadron in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

In 2020, Flying Officer Jack was named the best senior non-commissioned officer of the year for Scotland and Northern Ireland, earning him the Goose Bay Cane.

The squadron’s senior cadet, Flight Sergeant Ivan Jariod Scott, also won the best cadet of North Scotland Wing for 2022.

Squadron chairwoman Jo de Sylva said: “This really is an outstanding achievement for the Squadron, and we are extremely proud of the cadets.

“It is a testimony to their hard work and commitment to serve their community.

“However, none of this could be possible without the dedication of the adult unpaid volunteer staff who give up their time to lead, train, and develop the young cadet members in life skills to aid them in society.”

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