Welcome to 224 (Hexham) Squadron Air Training Corps – also known as ‘The Air Cadets’.
We are a busy unit, situated near the centre of Hexham, with an energetic and enthusiastic group of cadets and staff who are willing to get involved in everything! This website will hopefully give you a taste of what we do as Air Cadets – from flying and gliding, to hiking and camping, to exercises with the armed forces. Please read on to find out more about what we have been up to, in the words of the cadets themselves. If you have any questions about our activities, how to join, or how you can get involved as an adult volunteer, please do not hesitate to drop me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!
Flt Lt H J Farrimond RAF VR(T)
Officer Commanding 224 Sqn ATC
The Air Cadet Organisation is open to all young people who are aged 12 and in Year 8 at school – or who are above that age, up to the age of 17. Once you have become a cadet you can stay a member until you are 20 years old. Joining 224 (Hexham) Squadron is easy – just come down to the Squadron HQ on a parade night (most Wednesdays and Fridays), preferably around 1915hrs for a chat. If you want to bring a parent with you, or come with a friend, that’s great – although it is worth emailing beforehand to check that we will be here as some nights we meet elsewhere (if we are doing activities outside or are away on a visit).
On your first night you will be shown around the TA Centre by one of the cadets, to give you an idea of where everything is. You will then fill in a basic details form, so we know who you are, and will then sit down with one of the staff to have a chat about the organisation, the Squadron and what you can expect of us. Usually this is with the CO and she will also talk about what we will expect of you too! You will also be given a set of forms to take home, we need parental permission for you to join, and if you bring a parent with you the CO will explain the paperwork to them. You’ll also get a booklet about the Squadron and a copy of ‘Air Cadet’ magazine to take away.
Depending on what the programme is for that night, you will usually be invited to stay and join in. We try and get new cadets involved in everything as soon as we can – so you can get to know the rest of the cadets and feel more like part of the group. If you can’t stay that night, you will be asked to come back (with your paperwork completed) on the next parade night and we’ll take it from there! You don’t need to buy any kit upfront, and we won’t take any subs from you until you’re settled so why don’t you give it a try?
Every cadet has to undergo their basic training when they join the unit. This takes the form of a workbook which has a questions to answer on the following subjects;
The ATC and RAF
Drill and ceremonial
History of Flight
Principles of Airmanship (the features of an airfield and about the aircraft that we use)
Initial Expedition Training (putting tents up and training for an expedition)
Radio Communications (how to use a hand held radio)
Some of these subjects are taught in a classroom, others are practical subjects and training will be given outside – or on a training weekend in the field.
During this training, new cadets will also be involved in other parade night activities with the rest of the Squadron – sports, fieldcraft, leadership training…and all sort of other things. They will be able to take part in some off-squadron activities, but some will need the cadet to be officially enrolled (so have been with us for a bit longer). If in doubt, you can always ask if you can attend!
For your first few months you will attend in your normal clothes (we call them ‘Civvies’) but we will then put you into uniform. You will be given a dark blue (‘Working’ Blue) shirt, light blue (‘Wedgewood’ Blue) and skirt or trousers, plus a jumper, a beret and a brassard for your arm. The brassard is where you sew your Squadron identification badge and you can add qualification badges as you achieve them. You will be given some training on how to iron (you, not your parents!) your uniform and where to put badges. You will need to get a pair of shoes to wear with your uniform – at the beginning you can wear any black shoes, but you will want to acquire a pair of proper parade shoes that you can polish up. The other cadets can give you information on that sort of thing.
After you have your uniform you will be enrolled into the Squadron – you will be issued with a little blue book (a ‘3822’) which acts as your ID document if you go onto a military base and as a record of the cadet activities which you have done, and the dates you pass exams or get promoted. You need to read through your 3822 as there is a page for you to sign, and a ‘home agreement’ for your parents to read and sign as well. And now you’ll be a fully fledged ATC Cadet – Well done!
Our organisation could not run without volunteer staff - apart from a few admin staff at our Wing HQ, all the officers, NCOs and civilian instructors are doing this as our hobby. We are always more than happy to welcome new staff members – as long as you are over 20 years old we can find a job for you! All new members of staff begin as a Civilian Instructor (CI) and many stay in this role, but others decide to move over onto the uniformed staff side.
Civilian Instructors do not have a minimum commitment – as long as they attend when they say they are going to! Some CIs teach particular subjects, so only attend when their subject or activity is on the programme, others get involved in everything. We often find that a new CI will start with a limited area of involvement and will then get involved in more and more! CIs can gain qualifications in shooting, fieldcraft or adventure training, and can take cadets flying and gliding, on visits and trips and help at bag packs and community events. CIs are vital to the smooth running of the Squadron and if you think you have any skills we might be able to use, or if you just want to get involved and learn along the way, then get in touch.
To become a CI you will need an enhanced DBS (previously known as CRB) clearance, and will need to provide two character references. You will have an informal interview with the CO, and then a brief chat with the Sector Commander before your paperwork can go to HQ Air Cadets for approval. Once you are approved you will need to attend a one day ‘Basic Adult Staff Induction Course’ at Wing HQ which covers a wide range of subject matter including Child Protection and Safeguarding.
IIf you don’t wish to become an instructor, but you still want to be a part of the Squadron, we’d welcome you as part of the Civilian Committee. This is a group of local people (mainly parents) who have an interest in helping the unit but don’t want to become CIs. The Civilian Committee is a check and balance on the uniformed staff, and makes sure that the Squadron is being run in a correct and proper way. They are also responsible for the finances of the Squadron – organising fundraising events like bag packs and also generating funds from grant applications and contacting local businesses. The committee also run some of the parent’s events like the quiz night and the Christmas Dining In for the cadets. Some committee members take on extra responsibility for a particular project (eg grant applications, or helping to organise a cadet activity) or role (Chair, Treasurer or Secretary) but others are general committee members.
The committee meets roughly every six weeks, at the Sqn HQ and on a parade night so it is convenient for parents. The meetings are very informal and there’s always tea and biscuits of some sort! There is no commitment to attend every meeting, so if you can only get to the occasional one please do so. Any questions about the committee please contact our Chair, Mr Berges on firstname.lastname@example.org