A FALKLANDS hero was full of praise for two talented students announced as the first winners of a cadetship award.
Thirty years ago Martin Withers was captain of an ageing Vulcan bomber that was launched in a successful mission named Operation Black Buck, at the start of the Falklands War.
This week Martin, now 66, who lives in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, visited Hartlepool and handed over cheques to two students who were chosen as inaugural winners of the Gus Robinson Foundation Cadetship.
The firm led by Dan Robinson, who is a former jet fighter pilot, set up the cadetship to support youngsters with a passion for aviation and linked up with Hartlepool College of Further Education, which runs a top-class aerospace engineering programme.
College students Beth Newton-Smith, 17, and Jake Bellerby, 18, were announced as the first winners of the cadetship awards and each given £500 to spend on their studies.
Beth, 17, who lives in the Clavering area of Hartlepool and dreams of becoming an RAF engineering officer, said: “I found out about the cadetship through cadets and to be chosen as one of the winners is fantastic.”
Jake, who lives in Billingham and wants to become an aircraft engineer, added: “It’s been an honour to meet Martin and to be chosen as a winner. The money will go towards university costs.”
Martin, who is now chief pilot of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, praised the teenagers for their passion.
He said: “I have been flying now for 47 years and at the Vulcan trust we are extremely pleased to see young people who are so passionate about aviation and so extremely motivated.
“It’s great for them to get the support in the local community like they have here.”
Damian Southworth, chief executive of Gus Robinson Developments, said: “This is an example of the philosophy of Gus Robinson Developments. It’s all about creating a value in the business that can then be passed out in to the community to young people giving them opportunities and this is a perfect example of how we support youth in Hartlepool.”