Picture special: Highland charity Connecting Carers sends 12 Inverness and Ross-shire youngsters into the heavens with the help of the Honourable Company of Aviation Pilots and Highland Aviation
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A group of young carers had their heads in the clouds as they tasted the freedom of flying as part of a Highland charity’s uplifting new programme.
The 12 youngsters, from Inverness and Ross-shire, were all individuals who spend a great deal of time caring for and supporting a family member or loved one with physical or mental health issues.
Many young carers find the burden of responsibility leaves them with far less time than their average peer for fun activities or other life-enhancing and educational experiences.
Brought together by Dingwall-based Connecting Young Carers (CYC), the budding aviators were given a pilot’s eye view of their home area for the sheer pleasure of it, but also in the hope it might spark an interest in working in aviation, or help kindle career ambitions in other industries and employment sectors.
The dozen participants were chosen by Highland Aviation for the Youth in Aviation initiative, which is funded by the Honourable Company of Aviation Pilots (HCAP).
London-based HCAP works to share the enjoyment, exhilaration and pleasure of flying more widely.
Barbara Brown, a young carers development worker at CYC, said: “Experiences like this for the young people we work with are invaluable.
“It broadens their aspirations and gives them time out from their busy caring roles.
“After many delays to the programme due to Covid restrictions the group were excited to finally fly.
“We’re delighted Highland Aviation chose us to work with for this project.”
Alasdair Beaton, a liveryman with HCAP, said: “One common aspect of aviation is the enjoyment, exhilaration and sense of freedom we all get from flying.
“For all who take part in it, it is a very special experience.”
The first participants took off from Highland Aviation’s Inverness Airport base on Tuesday morning for an hour-long adventure in the skies, viewing their home area from a very different perspective.
Niamh Jupp (14), from Tain, said: “It was so good to see everything from above. I even saw oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth.”
Logan MacKinnon (12), from Inverness, said: “The views were amazing! I got to see Loch Ness from above and even take the controls.”
A longer-term aim is to encourage other flying training organisations in the UK to model similar opportunities for young people on the Inverness initiative.
Nick Taggart, director at Highland Aviation, said “We were approached by Alistair Beaton on behalf of HCAP, looking to sponsor flights for a worthy cause.
“We did some research and it quickly became apparent that Young Carers would be an excellent choice.
“To give flight experience to young people in the Highlands who dedicate so much of their time and love to caring for family members seemed like a perfect fit.
“It’s a privilege and a joy for Highland Aviation to help make this happen.”