Dennis still flying high 60 years on

Dennis Snowball pictured with fellow ATC members (left to right) Civilian Chairman of ATC Squadron 473 Andrew Thorn, air cadets Bethan Maiden, Alex May, Thomas Biggins, Katie Biggins, Sqn Co Flt Lt Andy Pygott and Wing Co Rt Eric Green Wing President of the Durham and Northumberland Air Cadet organisation.
Dennis Snowball pictured with fellow ATC members (left to right) Civilian Chairman of ATC Squadron 473 Andrew Thorn, air cadets Bethan Maiden, Alex May, Thomas Biggins, Katie Biggins, Sqn Co Flt Lt Andy Pygott and Wing Co Rt Eric Green Wing President of the Durham and Northumberland Air Cadet organisation.
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AN octogenarian who kept the accounts of an air cadet group in check for six decades has been honoured for his long service.

Dennis Snowball was just 24 and working for West Hartlepool County Borough Council’s income and revenue department, then based in Avenue Road, when he was asked to be treasurer for Hartlepool Air Cadets Corps Squadron 473 civilian committee.

Now 60 years later he has been presented with a long service award, as well as a merit of service award.

To add to the honours, Dennis, 84, has also been made honorary president of the squadron.

Dennis – who has been described as a “kingpin” – said: “I’m very pleased to get these awards.

“It’s been a long time, though it doesn’t feel that long.”

The awards were presented by squadron commander Andy Pygott and retired wing commander Eric Green, president of the Durham and Northumberland Air Cadet organisation, who travelled to town from Newcastle.

Dennis, who lives in the Hartfields Retirement Village, in the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool, said: “The main thing I have loved about being involved over the years has been the camaraderie.

“There have been a lot of decent guys who go there and it was a nice atmosphere.”

Dennis said the squadron was re-commissioned after the Second World War in 1949 and it had strong links with the town council, which formed a civilian committee.

Alderman TW Pinkney became the chairman of the committee and the council’s chief education officer, Leslie Dowsland was the committee’s secretary.

In 1951, Dennis was asked to become treasurer and for nine years, he ran the books from his Avenue Road office.

The squadron moved from Jesmond Road School to the former West Hartlepool Civic Airport, at Greatham, and then to George Street.

When the group moved to Blakelock Road, Dennis started to attend meetings twice a week and would collect young cadets’ subs, canteen money and pay the bills.

The group moved to its current base in Easington Road in 1976.

After Dennis retired from his day job in 1986, he got more involved.

He almost gave up the squadron role in 1995, due to ill-health, but as a replacement could not be found, he carried on from his home.

Dennis, formerly of Stamford Walk, continued in the role until 2007 and has been kept on in an advisory role ever since.

He said he remembers one former cadet, Frank Yeoman, who went on to become a pilot and later a teacher at Dyke House School.

The squadron’s civilian chairman, Andrew Thorn said: “Dennis has ran the accounts for years and kept us on the straight and narrow in times when we really had no money.

“He was a stickler for doing everything correctly, but over the years it paid off.

“The squadron went from strength to strength – he was always the kingpin.”