Air cadets flying high after opening of new £296,000 facility

Hartlepool Squadron - Mrs Sue Snowdon,  Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, with FS Samantha Chaffer, 19, cadets Brandon Lowery, 13 and Amber Napper, 15, and Cpl Georgia Tierney, 17. Credit George Bosnyak Photography
Hartlepool Squadron - Mrs Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, with FS Samantha Chaffer, 19, cadets Brandon Lowery, 13 and Amber Napper, 15, and Cpl Georgia Tierney, 17. Credit George Bosnyak Photography
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Air cadets are flying high after moving into a new £296,000 home.

Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sue Snowdon unveiled Hartlepool Air Cadets’s new headquarters.

Hartlepool Squadron opening - Mrs Sue Snowdon, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, tests her flying skills on the flight simulator watched by Cadet Gangul Srikantha, 15. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

Hartlepool Squadron opening - Mrs Sue Snowdon, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, tests her flying skills on the flight simulator watched by Cadet Gangul Srikantha, 15. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

Based within an existing wing at the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations (RFCA) building on Easington Road, it replaces two dilapidated huts which had stood in the grounds.

The refurbished centre includes a drill hall, classrooms, offices, servery, and an outdoor sports area and will be home to 20 cadets, uniformed staff, and civilian instructors, who until recently were housed in 40 year old wooden huts

The unveiling of 473 Squadron’s new headquarters comes as part of a £296,000 investment from the North of England RFCA and HQ Air Cadets.

Officer Commanding 473 (Hartlepool) Squadron, Flying Officer Deborah Fairbotham, said: “It is a wonderful new facility and we are extremely grateful to the North of England RFCA and HQ Air Cadets for making this move possible.

Mrs Sue Snowdon,  Lord Lieutenant of County Durham officially opens 473 (Hartlepool) Squadron's new HQ watched by OC Flying Officer Deborah Fairbotham. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

Mrs Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham officially opens 473 (Hartlepool) Squadron's new HQ watched by OC Flying Officer Deborah Fairbotham. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

“I am now very much looking forward to filling it with cadets and giving them the chance to take part in a host of challenging and exciting activities that will help build their confidence and self-reliance, test their initiative, and provide progressive training.

“This new centre drives the Squadron into the future. We are fully internet enabled with facilities that now make us the envy of many other groups. We hope this home lasts us for another 40 years and encourages yet more young people from the town into the spirit of ‘Venture Adventure’ as set out in the Corps motto.”

“I am delighted to have been asked to open this exciting new centre that is investing in the energy and enthusiasm of the area’s young people and helping give them something to aspire to in the future,” said Mrs Snowdon.

“Having toured the centre, spoken to the cadets this evening, and heard their stories, I know that the Air Training Corps has not only helped give them a purpose in life, but is helping nurture their leadership skills, self-motivation, confidence, and instil in them a sense of community.”

Hartlepool Squadron Opening - Mrs Sue Snowdon,  Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, presents Cdt Rebekah Kadhim with her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

Hartlepool Squadron Opening - Mrs Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, presents Cdt Rebekah Kadhim with her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

Mrs Snowdon unveiled a plaque before touring the facility, meeting cadets and staff, seeing some of the exciting activities the Air Training Corps offers, and handing out commendations, including a silver Duke of Edinburgh Award to Rebekah Kadhim, 15.

“We now have lots more space and it’s a really great place to be. I feel it is better for the whole Squadron, and we will now have the chance to do more exciting activities and hopefully encourage more cadets to join us,” said Kadhim who joined the ATC three years ago.

“I get the chance to do all sorts of things that other people my age don’t, such as shooting, rock climbing, and flying, and now I have achieved my silver Duke of Edinburgh, which I would never have done if I hadn’t joined.”

Hartlepool Squadron - Mrs Sue Snowdon, Her Majesty's Lieutenant of County Durham, with Cdt Amber Napper, 15. Credit George Bosnyak Photography

Hartlepool Squadron - Mrs Sue Snowdon, Her Majesty's Lieutenant of County Durham, with Cdt Amber Napper, 15. Credit George Bosnyak Photography