Wing News





Sunday 5th February saw over two hundred RAF Air Cadets and staff from across Plymouth and Cornwall Wing have march through the streets of the ancient stannary town of Tavistock to mark the anniversary of the formation of the Air Training Corps following the issue of the Royal warrant by His Majesty King George VI on 5th February 1941 to the youth organisation, formerly known as the Air Defence Cadet Corps which was set up by Air Commodore Chamier for the training of young men in various aviation related skills to address the needs of the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air Force.


In London, the same day morning, there was a similar service of thanksgiving at the Royal Air Force Church, St Clement Danes.  At that service, the Clergy and Banner procession was led in by the Cross of St Clement Danes, which is made from Cornish tin and was presented to the Church by then the Cornwall Wing of the Air Training Corps.


The Air Training Corps, (ATC) is now part of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and has grown over the decades to over 1000 squadrons with over 48,500 cadets supported by over 1000 volunteer staff across the United Kingdom with young women being allowed to join from the 1980s it is now being a totally diverse and inclusive organisation open to all on reaching Year 8 at college, with the moto of Venture Adventure, the aim remains teaching of skills for life through the many activities the organisation offers.


The parade in Tavistock was the largest parade by the Wing since the Covid pandemic and saw the cadets and staff march from Bedford Car Park to West Street before attending a service at Tavistock Parish Church of Saint Eustachius led by The Reverend Matthew Godfrey assisted by the Wing’s Padre, Prebendary Brian Anderson and the Padre for 2312 (Tavistock) Squadron, The Reverend Rosie Illingworth in the presence of Tavistock Town Mayor, Councillor Paul Ward, and Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, Rear Admiral Ric Cheadle CB and the Officer Commanding of Plymouth & Cornwall Wing, Wing Commander Francis Reis RAFAC.


The service was live streamed by the church the recording of which can be viewed here (the link will open a new window)


During the service the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet, Cadet Flight Sergeant Benedict Bailey of 2312 (Tavistock) Squadron who read from Palms 46 of The Old Testament, Flight Sergeant Bailey said after the service that it had been a great honour to be chosen to do the reading in which he recognised it having been quoted in the famous film, Zulu.


Cadet Eden Bennet also gave a reading, he read from Luke of the New Testament while prayers were led by Cadet Alice Matthew while the sermon was given by the Padre of 2312 (Tavistock) Squadron, The Reverend Rosie Illsworth, who was accompanied by the Squadron mascot ‘Simon’, a very large soft rabbit toy which had been won by cadets at a church fete.


After the service the parade reformed in West Street and march to Bedford Square for a formal reception at the Town Hall where Wing Commander Reis addressed those in attendance saying,

Members of Plymouth & Cornwall Wing I would like to thank all of you for turning out today, from all parts of the Wing, North, South, East and West. It is important to thank those people who made today possible. In church we thank 2312 (Tavistock) Squadron and Flt Lt Forbes for their contribution, the Wing Ex O Paul Smith and his staff at RAF St Mawgan who made sure coaches were provided and that the order of Service was printed. The Wing Warrant Officer needs to be thanked for putting on a fantastic parade so thank you Mr Barnes. Not forgetting the important support of our First Aid Team. To each and every one of you, you are a credit to the uniform, yourselves and your parents. In the tradition of the West Country once the parade is dismissed there is a locally made pastie for each and every cadet, and tea and cake for the staff.”


Following the event Reverend Matthew Godfrey said, “As it's the first such service since Covid, we've made a real effort to make it special, with the Stannary Brass Band, a piper from the Plymouth Pipe & Drum Band and the church choir. From start to finish this has been a wonderful celebration. The church bells ringing as the parade set off, Reverend Rosie’s sermon, and the brilliant readers, of whom he said: ‘they had one rehearsal with no audience and it’s quite a different thing to then stand and read in front of an audience. It’s nice to work with young people and to see them all together in public on parade for the first time in quite a while. I recognise that being members of the Air Training Corps helps them with their confidence and indeed self-respect. I was delighted that members of the Church congregation also attended this special service and that we have hosted Plymouth & Cornwall Wing on this special ATC Sunday”.