Last week Sqn Ldr Pat McCarroll retired from uniformed service in the Air Cadets. On the 9th December, at his last formal appearance at 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn as their Wing Staff Officer, he was presented with a pair of cut crystal whiskey tumblers engraved with the Sqn crest.
He is an ex Commanding Officer of 487 Sqn and has had a close relationship with the unit for many years and it was fitting that on the occasion of his last visit that the connection should be marked. Sqn Ldr Mumford, also an ex CO of 487, and Sqn Ldr Foster attended the presentation. He had to work right to the end, interviewing a prospective new Civilian Instructor, Mrs Michelle Jeffries.
He has for many years acted as the Warks & B’ham Wing Sports Officer, chasing, cajoling, bribing, begging, blackmailing and ear-bending Sqn Commanders and cadets alike to attend the various inter-squadron sports events and trials for the Wing sides. He also is an integral part of the Central & East Sports team attending all the events and acting as a selector in many of the sports.
Mac, as he was universally known, joined the Cadets in 1954. He later did a stint in the Royal Air Force in the early 1960s and upon leaving re-joined the Air Cadets as a staff member. He has completed over 60 years uniformed service; a remarkable achievement.
He was presented with the gift by Cadet Kurte Harris, who has represented both the Wing and Region in recent years. Cadet Harris, during a short speech reminding the assembled Cadets of the Squadron Leader’s special character and his various routines, but also to say what an inspiration to cadets he was. He has a way of encouraging cadets to realise their dreams and bring out their hidden talents. Mention was also made in passing about his driving skills, Miss Daisy’s driver he ain’t.
As for the future; he will be stopping with the Wing as a Civilian Instructor with 485 (Harborne & Quinton) Sqn. He will also be assisting the new Wing Sports Officer, passing on all the experience built up over the years.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, OC 487 Sqn reminisced that “When I was a young Cadet in the early 1970s, Mac was involved in Wing sports, when I was in the Wing Swimming team and he hasn’t changed one little bit. He will be a hard act to follow. I’m sure his presence will be felt for some while yet, at both Wing and Region levels”
Sgt Maxx Pierce & Cdt Shane Slattery with their awards
Four cadets recently received their Youth First Aid Certificates and Red badges for their brassards. The qualification lasts for a period of three years and is the minimum required to represent the Squadron junior & senior first aid teams in the Wing Training Day competitions.
Prior to Wing training Day the Squadron organised a First Aid training weekend at Kingstanding. It was attended by a number of cadets with various levels of experience. From those who had never done first aid to those who were seeking requalification. And yet others requiring a skills refresher, prior to the competition. The instructors, Flt Lt Brendan and newly qualified FA at Work Cdt Flight Sergeant Nathan Steadman organised the training, which comprised of two eight hour days. The training was a mix of theory and practical experience.
Flt Lt Heather Hart, Wing First Aid Officer undertook the assessments. Cadets Shane Slattery, Connor Jeffries and Callum Pearson passing for the first time and Cpl Alice Cotton re-qualifying after three years.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill said “First Aid is an important aspect of the 487 training programme, it gives the cadets a valuable life-skill as well as giving the unit a number of potential team members in the First Aid teams”.
Over the weekend of 1st and 2nd November, 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Squadron took part in the annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in the City Centre. Split into two crews, Cadets and Staff, from the Squadron took up positions in the New Street / High Street area on both Saturday and Sunday. It should be pointed out that many of the cadets attended on both days, well done to them. The weather was a little warmer than normal for the time of year, but showers were expected and prepared for.
At the time of writing the exact total is not yet known. The figure will be announced on the Sqn Facebook page when received from the RBL.
On the following Saturday, following a request from the Legion, the Squadron also attended the Birmingham City FC stadium, St Andrews, to sell poppies to the crowd before the game with Cardiff City. The Cadets with two Staff joined a contingent of Sea Cadets from TS Sterling and a number of ex-service Bikers on the day. A fantastic sum of over £ 2,500 was raised. Sisters, Cadets Jordan and Konnie Slattery were selected to collect in the Directors Lounge, raising several hundreds of pounds in a few minutes. Meeting players and senior staff of the Club.
Following the handing over of the collections, the cadets were given vouchers for food and drink and invited by the Club to watch the game, an entertaining 0 – 0 draw. Many cadets attending their first professional game were much amused by the fidgeting of their OC, many years a Blues fan.
487 Sqn has been affiliated to, and is proud to support the Royal British Legion assisting in the raising of funds in their support of ex-members of the armed forces and their dependants. The Cadets gave up time and are well aware of their contribution to the cause.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, summed up the experience,
“It is truly amazing how generously the people of the City support the Poppy Appeal year after year. Although it might appear a long drag, standing in one place for the whole day, the banter and friendly conversations with the good folk of Brum pass the time and make it worthwhile. I’d especially like to thank the generous fans of the Blues, where, I’d guess that 80% of the sum collected was in the last twenty minutes before kick-off. That period was mayhem; we couldn’t sell them fast enough; there were queues at each station.
Sunday 9th November 2014 saw cadets and staff from 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn in attendance at Birmingham’s Remembrance Day parade, where they were joined by members of other squadrons from the Birmingham area.
Prior to this there was an early start at 487 HQ, for the laying of the wreath within the TA premises where the squadron is based, as has now become a tradition on Remembrance Day. The squadron formed up and marched the short distance to where the memorial to the TA unit’s fallen is based, where Cpl Connor Fahey laid the wreath on behalf of the sqn. The 487 contingent were joined by other members of staff within the wing, Flt Lt Simon Jennings and FS (ATC) Andy Hudson.
After travelling into the city centre and being joined by members from other participating squadrons, the cadets took their usual place on Broad Street, at the back of the parade, to form up and wait for the parade to commence. There was time for a uniform check for cadets and staff alike, everyone wishing to look smart for the main event.
After marching onto the main parade area it was time for the ceremony to begin, including the marching of the standards. Cdt FS’s Beth Edmonds and Nathan Steadman of 487 were both included in this, following the sqn’s success in the Wing Banner competition earlier in the year, both looking immaculate. The parade had drawn a large crowd, with a great many wishing to pay their respects, the two minute silence observed by all.
After marching off the parade the cadets were joined by Wg Cdr Stuart Iles, who was full of praise for the cadets, “From my point of view you all looked very smart and behaved impeccably, but to hear these sentiments echoed by the attending members of the public was particularly pleasing. A big well done and thank you to you all.”
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, OC 487 added, “From a 487 viewpoint I am thrilled with the large turnout and proud of the way our cadets conducted themselves. It is also great to see so many of our CVQO enrolled cadets participating in such an important public event as this.”
487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn again opened its doors to the next batch of new recruits on 9th October. A fresh intake of another 17 recruits to bolster the ranks.
Most have been enrolled onto the CVQO scheme, Level 1. So that when they achieve First Class status they will also obtain the CVQO qualification.
Any youngsters, between 13 & 17 in the Kingstanding & Perry Barr areas who are considering their options could do worse than to join the Air Cadets. The Squadron will have its next intake in February 2015. If there are any questions or you wish to enrol, please respond to the join link on the webpage. www.487sqn.org.uk
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill commented, “Again we’ve had a good crop of new cadets. It all bodes well for the future of the Sqn.”
Three cadets from 487 Sqn have recently been making the news. Cadets Keyleigh Savage and Melissa Torgbi represented the Wing in the Regional Open Age Netball Championships at RAF Wyton on 2nd November and came away with Bronze Medals, finishing third in the Competition.
However, Cadet Kurte Harris, did his Sqn and Wing proud, following selection he represented the Central & East Region in the Corps Senior Football Championships on 15th November at RAF Cranwell.
The Region went on to win the competition, Kurte picking up a Winners Gold Medal and another Region Blue to add to his haul of sporting awards.
OC 487 Sqn, Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill said “A fantastic effort by all three cadets, they’ve shown what good athletes they all are. I’m really pleased for the Regional Footballers who only conceded one goal in the round robin tournament”.
487 Cadet Volunteers
In what has now become an annual fixture on the 487 Events Calendar, the Squadron again supplied a number of volunteers to assist the organisers of the Great Birmingham BUPA Half Marathon. This was the 3rd year that the Sqn had helped out, with 17 Cadets and 2 Staff in attendance. For many of the cadets this was their 3rd time and they were becoming “old hands”. Cadets and Staff from 491 and 1459 Squadrons were also in attendance. The weather forecast was for a warm, if blustery day, contrasting sharply with the cold rain of last year.
We assembled in the Birmingham Indoor Arena at 07:30 in the morning to receive instructions and to collect packed lunches and the special Blue Marshalls jackets. The Event Organisers greeting the cadets with smiles and welcomes, they were becoming old friends. It was good to see the same friendly faces.
The three Air Cadet units were allocated to the End Zone, beyond the Finish Line, where we were tasked with issuing the Completion Packs to the Runners. Again, this was the third time we’d all done this job, with both Staff and Cadets well used to the task at hand. BUPA Run Organisers, Peter and Norman were on hand to deal with any queries, but everything went smoothly.
Following the briefing, we were taken to our allotted space behind the finish line. Peter, an ex-RAF veteran gave us our final instructions and thanked the cadets for their help. The Zone was divided into three areas, each dedicated to particular T Shirt size. As each runner finished they collected a Pack containing a T Shirt (Large, Medium or Small), a foil blanket, energy bar & drink and most importantly their medal. 487 Sqn had again been allocated to the Medium size, where the largest number of runners was to be expected.
There were large cardboard cartons, each containing several hundred of the packs, we were instructed to open up those furthest from the finishing line and as they emptied to open the next in line. By 9.00 we were fully briefed and ready for action. But, as usual the fastest of the runners would not be through the finish line until 11.30 at the earliest, the cadets and staff walked the short distance into the city centre for breakfast. However, with over twenty thousand runners, several thousand spectators and supporters and the Marshalls, the city was packed – everybody had the same idea !! Eventually we got settled into a bacon butty & coffee. We did not have to be back in position before 11 am, but we were back and waiting by 10.30.
Shortly after, the elite athletes were on the move, followed by five waves of the thousands of competitors, ranging from experienced club members to the once-a-year for charity runners. As usual the initial slow trickle of finishers turned into a torrent, but the experience of previous years meant that we knew what to expect, the cadets in all three areas coping easily with the rush. We were aided this year by members of the Birmingham University Rowing Club, who joined us following an earlier task with the kids event.
Based on last years experience, the Sqn had worked out that a single cadet with each carton could feed another two cadets handing out the packs, at a good rate, preventing a build up of runners causing potential backlogs. It did mean that the cadets were constantly on the move during the busy period where most of the runners finished. The staggered start and the varying degrees of fitness of the entrants meant that the rate of which the runners finished remained fairly constant throughout the day, only starting to tail away after 2:30, although some were still arriving an hour later.
As in previous years, many of the runners, no matter how exhausted, took the time to personally thank the Cadets, not just for the packs, but for giving time on the day, fully appreciating that without the volunteers there could be no event. The vast majority of the runners were raising funds for a wide variety of causes and they recognised the contribution of all the Marshalls in support of their effort.
By the time the last few runners were drifting through the finish line, the small and medium packs had been completely exhausted and we were told to stand down by the Norman, the Supervising Marshall who thanked the Cadets for their efforts, and after a long but enjoyable day, headed for the transport home.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill commented “Watching the thousands of runners successfully completing the event is a humbling experience, many were exhausted or in some pain but were spurred on by the large crowds along the route to finish or by the knowledge they were raising money for their particular charity or cause.
Although many of the runners thanked the cadets, one particular individual took the time to shake hands with the cadets and to thank them for supporting the event, his obvious gratitude ensured that the cadets were aware of the personal effort and agony that some of the runners were experiencing and their contribution to the day”.
Cpls Johal & Evans after collecting their Certificates
Three cadets recently received their Level Two BTEC Certificates in Public Services through the Cadet Vocational Qualification Organisation. The CVQO provides funding to all three Cadet Forces to support cadets to gain further qualifications during their time as Cadets.
Cpls Kiran Johal and Ebony Evans, together with Cdt Kurte Harris picked up their Certificates from OC 487 Sqn, Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill.
From 2015 the process has slightly altered, Cadets will now undertake a BTEC in Teamwork and Personal Development in the Community. Cadets under 16 may elect to enrol on the Level 1 Course, Teamwork, Personal Skills and Citizenship, later moving to the Level 2 course. A CVQO update will be available shortly highlighting the activities of 487 Cadets working in the community.
Flt Lt O’Neill, commented, “487 Sqn has been involved in the CVQO scheme for a short time, but thanks to the efforts of Wing Commander Steve Mills, in his capacity as CVQO Co-ordinator and Sqn Ldr Bob Foster, WSO with Warks & B’ham Wing, 487 have taken to the scheme in big way, recently enrolling over 50 cadets onto the 2015 courses at Levels 1 and 2.”
The Squadron, along with Cadets from 165 Sqn attended the annual Church service of the Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association, held in St Martins Church in the Bull Ring. Cadets from both units acting as escorts and carrying their respective Sqn Standards.
They were also on hand after the service to present wreathes to the civic dignitaries and members of BARRA for laying at the nearby memorial to those killed during the raids in World War Two. The memorial was designed by Lorenzo Quinn the son of actor Anthony Quinn.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill added,“Staff and cadets have attended the annual service and parade for a number of years now and we consider it an honour to be allowed to represent the Air Cadet Movement in such a public setting”.
Following the recent success, winning the Wing Banner Competition at the Wing Field Day in June, the Squadron represented the Wing at the Regional Competition on 7th September.
The 487 Cadets achieved a creditable third spot in the event.
The team comprised Flight Sergeants Bethany Edmonds and Nathan Steadman, Cpl Connor Fahey Cadets Daniel Hemming and Kayleigh Savage as escorts.
Cdt Savage was a late replacement, as Cpl Hunter-Rice has left the Sqn, following her acceptance to Welbeck College in Loughborough. Cdt Savage has only been in uniform a few months and was not fazed or appear out of place in the competition which was of a very high standard.
During the day the Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty met many of the cadets from the Region, including the two 487 escorts, Cdts Kayleigh Savage and Daniel Hemming.
Following announcement of the results of the various competitions and the final parade, there was a march past of the whole Region, led by the six Banner teams, it was quite a sight !! The salute was taken by Air Cdr Dawn McCafferty
OC 487 Sqn, Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, who attended on the day said, “Having watched all the Wing teams in the competition, I found it difficult to distinguish between them. The judges have a difficult job and clearly minor nuances decided the final order. The 487 Cadets did the Wing, the Squadron and themselves proud”
Flight Sergeant (ATC) Steve Taylor, who trained the team, later remarked on the fantastic advances made by the Squadron, “Two years ago we finished 14th in the Wing Competition and now we are 3rd in the Region, which has 178 Squadrons”
An account by Cpl Anna-Marie Ewins, 487 Sqn
After arriving at Brunel University, being given a room for the night and changing into my IACE polo shirt - this was finally it. I was going to The Netherlands!
After a general briefing to the entire UK contingent, we were split into our individual visiting countries, finally giving me the chance to meet the other cadets coming with me to The Netherlands.
A coach ride to Heathrow airport the following morning and hours of waiting, my excitement was mounting and I could barely sit still! After a 45 minute flight this was it, we were finally there! I was in the Netherlands! As the last to arrive at the airport, we joined cadets from the other eight participating countries on the coach that we would be travelling on every day, for the three hour journey to the south of this small country to Woensdrecht Maintenance Airbase; the place that would be our home for the next two weeks.
We were fed, and then given a short briefing by the Deputy Base Commander before a short tour around the base and finally arriving at our dorms for a much needed early night.
Wednesday 23rd July was spent getting to know the responsibilities of the airbase. We visited the Meteorological Centre that produced the weather reports for RNLAF missions and the Flight Training facilities. In the evening we put on our formal uniforms and made our way to the Officer's mess in the typically Dutch and difficult to pronounce 'Shuttershof' for a welcome dinner and roll-call. It gave us a chance to get to know the people we'd be spending the next two and a half weeks with and learn a bit about their home countries and the differences in culture.
On Thursday we visited the small but beautiful town of Breda to see the military academy. During the afternoon we were asked to take part in a two minutes silence to honour the victims of the tragic MH17 disaster. We travelled on to the Delft Technical University to look at the aerospace facilities including three types of wind tunnel and a full motion flight simulator. After lunch at the university we visited The Hague to see the Dutch Houses of Parliament before a free evening at the airbase.
The morning of Friday 25th July was a morning of physical hell. We were up early and outside the sports centre for some military training. After being shouted at by the scary Sergeant Major and made to run, we had the opportunity to use the obstacle course that is used for training. Climbing rope ladders, crawling through dirt, jumping, climbing, and ducking under obstacles. One task put us in groups of six where we had to carry a 7ft log between us with the Sergeant Major barking commands to hold it above our heads, left shoulder, right shoulder, under our legs, right hip, left hip. Another task we had to get together as a team and create a kind of staircase with the logs and then each of us had to run up it with the rest of the group holding our weight. Even for someone as weak and scared of physical exercise as myself it was so much fun! It also broke through the initial awkwardness, bringing together the group and opening us up.
The afternoon gave us the opportunity for recovery and to do some gliding at Soesterberg. Despite the overcast weather, everybody had the chance to get up at least once. Some lucky ones amongst us, including myself, were able to get up in the air twice in the winch gliders. We had a few drinks and snacks in the gliding centre, giving us the chance to talk to some of the glider pilots before returning to Woensdrecht for another free evening. For those that wanted to we went to the sports hall on base for some team sports. A game of dodgeball and a very novel version of hockey, using hockey sticks with chunks of polystyrene on the end. It was a fun way to get the group to gel together a bit more.
On Saturday we finally had the opportunity to visit the capital and spend the day in Amsterdam. We started off in the Rijksmuseum which had fascinating collections of artwork, model ships, swords and guns etc. After the museum we were split into groups and free to explore the city with some of the escorting officers guiding us. My group consisted of three of the British boys, the Germans and the Swiss. It also gave me a good chance to practice my German language skills on real native speakers. We walked through the city visiting Dam square and the famous red light district before joining the rest of the group for a canal boat tour of Amsterdam in the sunset.
Sunday 27th July was more relaxed with a battle of Arnhem tour and visit to the museum before moving on to Terlet gliding centre where a lucky few had the opportunity for another round of gliding also some aerobatics.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the visit to Volkel airbase to see the F-16 flight operations. In the hangar we were free to touch, sit in the little cockpit and interact with the aircraft as well as with the training missiles. It was incredible to get so close to this aircraft that so few people ever get to see. What was even more amazing was the opportunity to see one of these aircraft start up, taxi out to the runway and take off! We had to wear earplugs and once the engine was started it was clear why! The blast of the jet wash was strong enough to push some people backwards off of the tarmac onto the grass a few metres behind them. Coupled with the heat and roar of the engine that sent your heart racing and the characteristic smell of aviation, the experience was incredible. We were taken to the runway where we were able to watch two F-16s thunder down the runway and take off on their way to a training mission in Germany.
The following day we visited the Delta Dams project, one of the most well known systems in place to stop this tiny country from flooding. In the afternoon we moved on to the coastal town Vlissingen for a day at the beach. We were free to explore the sweet little town in our own groups before returning the base for another free evening.
Wednesday 30th July we had a free morning giving us the surprise opportunity to get some shooting in on the shooting simulators at the base. From simple target shooting and moving targets to a full blown mission in Afghanistan and the more light-hearted shooting of cans, animated cows and birds. It was so much fun, especially for someone like me who had never held a weapon before. In the afternoon we visited Gilze-Rijen Helicopter Command Base to see the awesome Apache helicopters which, as with the F-16s, we could climb on and see the engine and to just go up and touch it. We also had the chance to see the Chinook helicopters. Sadly we weren't able to persuade the base staff to give us a lift back to Woensdrecht.
On Thursday we visited the European Space Agency Research and Test centre in Noodwijk. We saw the mission control where ESA missions are planned, as well as the actual IXV re-entry test vehicle. We were also given the chance to see other real life space objects that had been in space as well as space modules. There was a rover being tested that would follow us around the room. It was great to gain insight into how the organisation worked, how missions are planned and designed as well as being able to see actual space objects that people rarely get to see.
Friday was the day we had all been so anxious about. We visited the Port of Rotterdam for an explanation on how it is run, followed by a boat ride through the port and given some time to explore. When the afternoon came we found out who our host families would be. Would we be alone? What would the food be like? Thankfully I was paired with a Canadian girl whom I'd become good friends with. Our family lived in a small village called Ellecom near Arnhem in a beautiful 200 year old restored farmhouse. Over the weekend we visited a national park for a typical Dutch bike ride and an open air museum giving us insight into the Dutch way of live through history. We tried traditional Dutch food such as bitterballen, meat krokets and stroopwafel. Our host family were so welcoming and treated us as if we were their own children (One of which was on IACE to Canada). It was incredible to experience The Netherlands as someone who lived there rather than a tourist.
We returned to the group on Monday, being three hours away from Amsterdam. We visited the Cruquis Waterstate Expo in Haarlem for insight into the mechanisms used to stop the country from flooding. We returned to Schipol airport to visit the KLM Flight training, Engineering and Maintenance facilities for another highlight of the trip. I had the opportunity to successfully take off, fly a circuit and land a 747 (in a simulator) and to see the 747-400, MD-11 and a Boeing 777 in the hangars. We were able to sit in the cockpit as well as get at taste of life flying in business class.
Thursday 5th August we visited Eindhoven airbase to see the huge aircraft that were the C-130 Hercules, again allowing us to explore as we wanted. We were also incredibly lucky to have the chance to see the absolute beast that was a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster and a medical team packing away from a training exercise. I was also able to go right up to the runway to watch a C-130 take off for a mission.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. When we returned to the base it was time for the farewell BBQ. We put on our formal uniform and returned to the now familiar 'Schuttershof' and the Officer's mess. After food, thanks were given to the organising staff as well as a massive thanks to the Escorting officers. They were a major part of the trip having volunteered their own time to look after us, bringing with them their own incredible sense of humour and most importantly treating us as adults and equals.
Gifts were given, polo shirts were swapped, books were signed and tears were shed (mostly by me) bringing a close to this absolutely incredible experience. To have had the opportunity to see such specialised aircraft and operations that not even most members of the RNLAF get to see or experience themselves was incredible. It was absolutely amazing to have been able to meet people from all over the world including people from Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Turkey, South Korea, France, Canada, Hong Kong and some of whom I'm still in contact with and have become friends for life.
If anyone ever gets the opportunity to take part in the IACE I can't stress strongly enough how much you should take it. To have seen so much of the country in such a short space of time and to see things that no tourist, native or even military personnel would ever get to see is incredible. It's something that I will never get to experience again and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
The 487 Sqn Team: BACK: Dhaliwall, Singh, Grewall, Harris, Bhakta, Leigh FRONT: Johnston, Fahey, Farr, Griffiths
Another disappointment for the 487 Squadron footballers. For the second year running the Kingstanding lads lost the Wing football final, repeating last years score line of 2 – 1.
The much postponed and most delayed game in the history of the competition meant that the final was eventually fought out on Wednesday 30 July. The venue this year was the North Solihull Sports Stadium.
The mid-week, non-parade night did no favours to 487 Sqn, there were only fit 10 players available on the night and the team sheet looked sparse. This together with the prospect of facing a full strength 8F side meant the boys from north Birmingham had their work cut out against the best cadet side in Coventry.
As usual, a large crowd had gathered for the 8 o’clock kick off, many travelling the short distance from Warwickshire’s second city, taking advantage of the late evening sunshine, to spend a few pleasant hours in the outer Birmingham suburbs.
The 487 game plan had to be to play with one lone striker, backed by the two rows of four. Captain for the night, Sgt Nik Bhakta, won the toss and elected to play with the sun behind the 487 keeper, to take advantage of the setting of the late summer sun over Chelmsley Wood. I’d rather this than Paris any day said a passing spectator.
The pitch was one of the new astro-turf surfaces, the ball would move quickly over the surface. This called for accurate passing between the players, if excessive running was to be avoided on a warm night.
Cdt Joe Griffiths, playing alone “up front” knew he wouldn’t get much change out of the 8F side. It was going to be difficult to make headway against one of the best defences in the Wing, relying on accurate balls from the 487 midfield. The arrangement was that the back 4 and the midfielders could interchange, but maintaining the overall shape of the team was vital. Without a recognised keeper on the night, Cadet Tommy Farr volunteered to go between the sticks for the evening. Later in the evening he achieved “hero” status, making two vital saves in quick succession, to keep 487 in the game.
Right on time the Ref blew for kick off. At first it was a bit “hit and rush” for both sides, getting used to the plastic pitch. Gradually the game settled down with both sides playing some decent football. 487’s one man disadvantage was not noticeable; after all, it was no accident that they had made it through to the final for the second year running. Most of the first half was fairly even, slightly favouring the Coventry side, having a tadge more possession, but without any clear cut chances. But, towards the half time break, Joe Griffiths getting the better of his marker for once, cut clear of the defenders, attempted an early shot, bringing a wonderful save from the keeper. Eventually though, with the sides cancelling each other out, the Referee brought the half to a close.
The second half started much the same, the crowd rumbling that the tie would go to penalties, following the extra time period. Then, suddenly, out of the blue with 15 minutes to go 8F broke the blue hearts with a goal. The game exploded, the 487 lads, rather than become down-hearted raised their game and took the attack to their Warwickshire neighbours, wave after wave bore down on the Coventry goal, but to no avail. Then against the run of play the 487 defenders found themselves outnumbered at the back. Cadet Farr in goal was as brave as his namesake, the famous boxer, diving twice at the feet of the 8F forwards to deny them a shot on target. His efforts kept Kingstanding in the game.
Buoyed by the narrow escape, the Blues again assaulted the 8F goal, this time with deserved success. Joe Griffiths powering home the equaliser with 10 minutes left on the clock.
8F, visibly shaken, were on the back foot, a succession of 487 corners came to naught. At the end of one of these attacks a 487 midfielder (name withheld) found himself in front goal with nobody to stop a certain score, blasted the ball out of the ground. The 487 supporters in the crowd groaned in disbelief. Even his mother buried her face in her hands and muttered something to herself. The 8F staff, subs, supporters thanked the stars and the setting sun. Then disaster ….
A break-away goal for Coventry.
The reversal was too late in the game for the 487 team to respond, shortly after the Ref brought the game to its conclusion.
Final Score 2:1.
Following the game, the teams and spectators reflected on the performance of both sides, with the respective Sqn Commanders praising the efforts of their opponents. Cadet Griffiths was voted Man of the Match, but Cadet Farr was “mentioned in dispatches” for his brave efforts in goal.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, 487 Sqn, commented “although finishing as runners-up for the second year is disappointing, it does reflect the consistency of the unit in recent years. Although we were under-strength, I don’t feel that it was as critical as it seems. On another day the goals may have gone in and 487 would be running out winners. There were long periods in the game where we dominated. I’m very proud of the effort made by the 487 team”.
On Saturday 9th August, I was picked up from 495 Squadron in Sutton at 8:55. Being the only cadet from 487 on the camp, I’d not expected to know anyone, but it turned out there were a few familiar faces already at the first pick up, and as we collected more cadets from various points across Warwickshire and Birmingham, I realised I already knew quite a few cadets from past camps. It was a long journey to the station, which is in North Yorkshire, and we arrived at about 1400 hrs. We were shown to our rooms, and Tait Block had the nicest accommodation I’ve ever stayed in with the cadets, single rooms with lots of storage space. After quickly unpacking, we went for the usual arrival and safety briefs. We were then sorted down into flights, and I was delighted to find out that I was 1IC of B flight, meaning I was first in command of 11 other cadets for the week. We did a little bit of drill before dinner, then the evening activity was a FamEx, which is a familiarisation exercise, where we explored the base and answered a set of questions. My flight won this by correctly answering most of the questions. Then, it was uniform prep then bed.
The next morning we were up early for inspection, then after breakfast we went to a church service on base. We then went to the Air Operations Acquaintance Centre, where we spent most of the day completing a time planning challenge. The exercise put us in the position of fast jet pilots who were tasked with blowing up various targets, and, in our flights, we had to prioritise the targets, then select the missile we’d use, and the aircraft to carry the missile. This was extremely difficult, but, after presenting our plan to the AOAC team and the rest of the camp, it was announced that B flight had won this activity! Throughout the day, we also went in small groups to use the flight simulators there. After dinner, we did some drill practice in preparation for the inter-flight drill competition at the end of the week. By now, I was starting to realise how hard it is to take drill with a selection of cadets of varying levels of drill competency, and with different squadrons having minor differences in how they did things! We then went to the station gym and did the RAF fitness test, which involves timed sit ups and press ups, then doing the multi-stage fitness test, also known as the dreaded ‘bleep test’. This also contributed to the flight competition, and B flight won again, by quite a margin. After a fairly tiring day, lights out was at 2245.
On Monday morning, all pilots at Linton were briefed by the Met Office on the weather, the engineers on the status of their aircraft, and the Station Warrant Officer on other issues. We all got the rare opportunity to sit in at the back of this brief. It was fairly difficult for us to understand due to the fact that the military has a bad habit of talking in acronyms! However, as the brief wasn’t intended for us, we hadn’t expected to, and it was interesting nevertheless. After an inspection, we travelled into Leeds to go to the Royal Armouries, which is where all the weapons that used to be stored in the Tower of London have been moved so they can be displayed to the public. It was a really interesting place, however, in true cadet spirit we all spent most of the day taking selfies with various exhibits. Once back at the station, we did more drill practice, and after having a sore throat for a few days, this is when I actually lost my voice! The evening activity was a quiz on topics including the history of the RAF, sport, general knowledge, and food. Once again, B flight won! Lights out was at 2230.
On Tuesday, we travelled to Adrenaline NY, which is an adventure training centre in the Yorkshire Dales. Here, we did activities such as Leap of Faith and Jacob’s ladder. These were, again, a part of the inter flight competition. My flight won, again, bringing the overall score up to 5-0! After lunch, we went on an assault course, which was the one used on an 80’s TV show’s 2009 remake called ‘The Krypton Factor’, which, although none of us had heard of, we were assured our parents would have. It had 20+ obstacles, which included climbing over huge walls, crawling through muddy tunnels and jumping into murky water that we couldn’t see the bottom of. We were told to jump into a specific part of this huge pond, where the sides weren’t sloped so we would land on a flat surface, but I underestimated the jump and ended up chest-high in the dirty water, which, as you can imagine, I wasn’t that happy about, especially since I was wearing my MTP under the coveralls they’d lent to us! The completion of the assault course was scored based on how many times you ignored safety rules- you started on 200 points, and 10 were deducted for each penalty. B flight, of course, won. After showers and dinner, we went into York to go bowling. This was the first inter flight competition that we actually lost! We went back to Linton, and lights out was at 2300.
On Wednesday, we travelled to RAF Fylingdales, which is the base which used to have the iconic ‘golf ball’ radar. However, nowadays, it has a pyramid shaped, 8-storey radar tower. We actually got the chance to go inside it, which I found really fascinating since I want to work in communications as an engineer in the RAF when I’m older. We got to see the early warnings system for missiles being launched through the area that Fylingdales covers. We then visited the power station on base, which they have there in order to be as self-sufficient as possible, and the fire section. We then went to Scarborough, which is a seaside town on the east coast, and, to our delight after a few days on JRM food, the staff treated us all to a McDonalds! We then had a few hours free time which we spent on the prom in arcades, and we even visited a haunted house. As it was only £3 entry fee, we hadn’t expected a lot, however we were all screaming- even me, who by this point could barely talk, let alone scream! We drove back to Linton, and lights out was at 2300 again.
Thursday was a fairly typical day as far as cadet camps go- we did the usual section visits, which were a whistle stop tour of Air Traffic Control, safety equipment, operations planning, and the engineering department to name a few. We also got to visit the Tucanos. Linton is the No.1 Flying School, and where the fast jet pilots start their training on the Tucano. We were shown the basic controls and told about the structure of the training. We spent the rest of the day doing finishing touches on our drill, as the competition was early the next morning. It was really amazing to see the improvements in the drill of the flight- at the beginning of the week, some of the cadets could barely march, yet a few days later they’d picked up the whole sequence and it was actually looking quite good! The other flight, who’d got fairly complacent at the beginning of the week when they’d seen our flight’s standard, were now starting to panic, which amused my flight quite a lot!
On Friday morning, we were up and in the sports hangar for the drill competition for about 9:00am. We were inspected and judged by the Flt Lt in charge of drill on the station, as the SWO was busy. After a perfect sequence, it was announced that B flight had won the drill! This made me happier than anything, mainly because it was the cadets in the flight’s determination to prove the other flight wrong that saw them through! I was also happy that my voice had recovered just enough for my flight to hear me calling the drill commands! Then the Camp Com announced that the camp’s best cadet and best NCO wouldn’t be joining the rest of the camp to Eden Camp, a WW2 memorial, and instead would get the chance to go the ATC and in a Tucano simulator, so of course I was over the moon when I got best NCO and a cadet from my flight got best cadet. In the ATC, we got to sit in the approach room with headsets on and shadow someone working there, then go into the watch room at the top and see the aircraft come in. We then went to the Tucano simulator, which was a state-of-the-art piece of technology used for training the fast jet pilots. We got half an hour each, and it was amazing- we got to take off, land, and do aerobatics. By the time we were done, the rest of the camp was back. After dinner, we had the end of camp presentation, where everyone got a certificate of attendance and a Tucano poster. I also got presented with a glass paper weight of the RAF Fylingdales radar tower, after the staff had seen my enthusiasm for the station, and my Tucano poster was signed by the OC of 72 Sqn, which is the Tucano squadron! The NCO’s then presented the notorious paper plate awards - mine was ‘Loudest Cdt’, since my voice still wasn’t back. The staff then surprised us with Dominos pizzas, and after eating, we headed back to the block to pack up.
On Saturday morning, after final inspections, we headed back to Birmingham. I was truly disappointed that the week was over - it had been amazing, and was a great last camp with the Air Training Corps.
Or, how a nightmare turned into one of the best weeks of my life.
On route to RAF Brize Norton, there wasn't a single negative thought in anyone's head. We were all so excited; after all, we were going to the Ascension islands!
We arrived at Brize Norton to check in, everyone eager to hand their passports over. Then there was a pause, we were all confused, what could possibly be the hold up? Everyone got a little anxious, what was going on?, why couldn't we check in?
"We are sorry to announce that there is a technical fault with the plane and there will be a 24hour delay."
Everyone's faced dropped, this was the worst news we could've received then two words echoed through the terminal, "Gateway House". It was like a cold gust of wind had just rolled through the room, Gateway House was the building we were going to be staying in for the next 24 hours, a building full of broken dreams and misery, in other words its a building with no wifi or signal which is basically the same thing for a group of teenagers.
We grabbed our suitcases, loaded up onto the coach and were on route to Gateway House. We arrived at Gateway, checked in to our rooms and did what any cadet does best, went on the hunt for food.
The next day we woke up still with hours and hours to wait, fortunately for us CWO Lynch had brought his laptop loaded up with films, however that could only entertain for so long. We were forced to entertain ourselves, this included a game made up from bungee's and any object we could find. The game consisted of flinging an item with the bungee to see how far it could travel down the hallway, if you’re interested the item with the furthest distance was a maoam.
Hours felt like days in this asylum.
After hours and hours of entertaining ourselves, it was finally the time we had all been waiting for! We grabbed our suitcases and got to the check in. Before we knew it we were boarding the plane and off to the Ascension Island. Everyone was so excited!
After a gruelling 9 hour flight of plane food and numb legs, we were there; we looked out the windows to see this tiny desert-like island. The plane doors opened and when walking out, the heat hit us like a slap on the face, the humidity was insane. It was instant sweating for us.
Everyone was walking across the runway with massive grins on their faces; I didn't see one person who wasn't smiling. We got our luggage and went to our accommodation. We had to have a Station brief when we got there so we all got in our DPM's/MTP and went to the brief. I literally couldn't keep my eyes open in this brief, as interested as I was in hearing about the Ascension Island, the lack of sleep on the plane had hit me, and my eyes were rolling. I was doing anything to stay awake.
After the brief we all got our swimsuits and flip flops and went to visit Comfortless Cove. This was a little cove which had a small white beach with the bluest of water, it was such a beautiful place, there were even fish swimming around, they seemed pretty harmless until... THE SHARK ATTACK.
I got bit by a shark and I felt as if my arm had just been bitten off, there was blood everywhere, panic filled the cove. So that's the story of how I was bit by a shark. In other words I was bit by one of these little fish who just so happened to be related to piranhas, it hurt a little, it was mostly the shock of it that got me but don't worry, I didn't really lose an arm. That night we visited North East Bay when it was dark and we got to see hundreds of crabs which were roaming about, I’d never seen so many in one place before, they were everywhere. One of the conservation workers taught me how to hold one so I held a crab, they were massive and a lot stronger than I thought. On our way back walking along the beach, we came across a load of baby turtles that had just hatched, they were so tiny and fragile but we couldn't see them too well because we couldn't have our lights on, that was the first time I'd ever seen a baby turtle and it was a great experience.
The next day we went to Long Beach to do some conservation work, our jobs included picking the weeds and the roots and also hauling out this massive tarpaulin sheet that had been left buried under the sand. The reason for doing all this was because turtles would come onto this beach in the night and they would dig holes to lay there eggs in, sometimes the weed roots would get in the way so we tried removing as many as possible. It was a hot job but overall we enjoyed it. Later that day we went to Lady Hill, this was one of the hills which had the Air Cadet Ensign on top. We climbed Lady Hill, it wasn't a massive hill; it was just made harder due to the heat, when we got to the top we took pictures of the sights and filled in a book in the letterbox to say we'd visited.
We were taken to the European Space Agency tracking station on the other side of the island where they worked with stuff from ESA & NASA, we were shown all sorts of technology and how they measured different things, I cant remember much of what they said because it was so confusing but what I can remember was the buildings that they did their work in, were ice cold inside which felt like such a luxury. Later on in the day we went to English Beach for some free time, it was so nice. The only downside to it was there were fish in the water and at this point I was pretty scarred by what had happened. We went exploring in the sea and round the rocky areas. All we ever seem to complain about is doing drill so what happens when you give cadets a camp with no drill? We do drill, but this time in the sea. We made our own little sequence which was extremely difficult to do with the waves pulling us in and out, overall it looked terrible but was very fun to do and even funnier to watch.
That night we went to Long Beach to see the big mother turtles lay their eggs, they were a lot bigger than I thought, the conservation workers told us all about how turtles live and what their lives would consist of, it was so fascinating to watch and hear about as I'd never even seen a turtle like this in real life. We were limited to two photographs of it each because the flashes could've affected the turtle because when they give birth they go into a trance so they are oblivious to what is going on. After giving birth to the eggs, the mother turtle would they bury them to keep them warm then go back into the ocean.
On the Monday, we were given the task of path clearances up on Green Mountain. We used machetes to cut down any overgrown plants to make way for a path. It started off as great fun but after a while it gets pretty tiring. We were all impressed by the sharper machetes because they cut the sticks and plants so easily and clean whereas with the blunter ones there was a lot of hacking away at the same spot for a while which got tiresome. We were literally one step away from the edge of the mountain when doing this so you had to be extra careful about where you stepped. After we'd finished the path clearing we went to Elliot's Pass which was a little track that went around the edge of the mountain, it was all fun and games until we got to this one section of the path which was literally on the very edge and the soil was so soft so it moved easily, it was fun to cross but at the same time extremely scary as any wrong move could be deadly.
Today was the final day, our last ever day on Ascension. We went to Georgetown; this was the main town of the island where they had little shops where you could buy souvenirs and sweets. They had a museum which taught you all about the history of Ascension and what happens on the island, it was pretty interesting but I didn't really have a clue what any of it was. Near to the museum there was a place called Fort Hayes, I'm not too sure what it was used for but it had loads of underground rooms which seemed to all be filled with empty wine bottles, there were also places where cannons used to be. They looked like they would've been firing out at oncoming ships. After visiting Georgetown we made our final visit to the beach to enjoy the sand and sea of Ascension for one last time. The waves that came in were massive; they were picking us all up and just throwing us onto the beach.
It was time to go; we boarded our plane back to England. This time everyone's faces were the complete opposite, everyone was sad to be leaving Ascension. If there is one thing that I'm sure every single person on that camp can agree on is that the camp to Ascension Island was the best camp ever.
This is the story of how a complete nightmare turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life, I'm so grateful that I was so lucky to go, it was a once in a lifetime trip and I wish I could go back and do it all over again.
March Off the Wg Banner
FS Daly collecting the Shooting Trophy
Cpl Fahey collecting the Banner Trophy
The 487 Team
Thirty Cadets and two Staff from 487 Squadron travelled to Bramcote Barracks on Sunday 6th July 2014 to attend the annual Wing Field Day Competition. Having won the overall competition in the preceding four years the Sqn was confident of doing well, although well aware that the success in recent years had developed into a rivalry with other Squadrons.
That said, the Cadets were on their mettle, willing to sacrifice their Saturdays to hone their skills in the run up to the day. Success had brought its own pressure to continue the run.
As usual the Wing Training Day was an amalgam of competitions. Squadrons competed in a variety of events: Football, Netball, Shooting, First Aid, Foot Drill, Banner Drill, Aircraft Recognition, Model Making, Photography, Media and PR. Many of the competitions have junior & senior events. In addition there are individual awards to Cadets; as Best Drill NCO, for top Aircraft Recognition and the Best Shot. Points are awarded to Sqns for each event, according to their position. The total points are totted up to find the overall winner, who is presented with the Per Ardua Cup.
Following the usual programme, with the competitions completed, the Wing was assembled onto the Parade Square for the formal part of the day. In excess of 500 cadets representing all the Squadrons in the Wing were on parade, awaiting the results.
Following amendments to the scoring methodology since last year, the Per Ardua Cup was won by 492 (Solihull) Sqn, worthy winners with 59.5 points, 163 Sqn second with 57.5 and in third spot 487 Sqn with 56.5 points. Although close, just 3 marks, there was clearly disappointment in the 487 ranks.
But, on the other side of the coin, it should be remembered that in the particular events there were many worthy contributions from the 487 Cadets, the list of successes is recorded: -
First Aid – Junior 4th place
First Aid – Senior 2nd place
Drill 3rd place
Banner Drill 1st place
Shooting 1st place, for the 5th time in six years
PR Competition 4th place
There were also notable contributions from Individual cadets: -
FS Louise Johnson 2nd place, individual shooting
FS Ryan Daly 4th place, Drill NCO
Prior to the Final Parade, the 487 Banner team as competition winners, marched onto the parade square to receive the Wing Banner, following which they took position, ready to lead the Wing in the March Past.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, OC 487, summed up the day, commenting that
“Although disappointed that we were not the overall winners, many of the performances today were outstanding, winning two of the main competitions and finishing in the top 4 places of four others, is a notable achievement. It is also a comment on Cadets themselves, where, following the recent Wing Training Day successes, finishing third is considered a backward step.
I recognise and applaud all the hard work and dedication of the cadets of 487 Sqn; training and practicing in the lead up and for their professional approach to the competitions at Bramcote Barracks on the day.
Without doubt there is a mood within the Squadron that this is a passing ‘blip’ and that next year, order will be restored”
Some of the Cadets showing off their Certificates
Following the recent large intake at the beginning of the year, seventeen cadets were last month rewarded with the fruits of their efforts, receiving their first Class Cadet badges and Certificates. They are now eligible to attend RAF summer Camp and take part in many other activities.
This last cadre started with nineteen, the vast majority making it through to the graduation. Well done to them.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, OC 487, commented
“This is a fantastic achievement, to have so many come through the training process together. It is recognition of their endeavour. But credit is also due to the efforts of the Instructors, both Adult and Senior Cadets, without them all would be for nothing.
The Sqn should give itself a big pat on the back”
Cadet Holly Daly before her first flight
Cpls Alice Cotton & Nik Bhakta preparing for WTD
An unexpected bonus – some midweek Tutor flying slots became available in July. A number of cadets given permission by their schools, together with some older Cadets travelled to Nr 8 Air Experience Flight, based at RAF Cosford. Slots were available on three different days and with the help of Sqn staff, who were able to transport the lucky individuals, at short notice, it made for a successful opportunity. A total of 11 cadets from 487 Sqn made it into the air.
The Squadron, along with the rest of the Air Cadet Organisation has suffered in recent years from a lack of “air time” and this made a welcome change.
There was also a chance for some shoe polishing in preparation for the upcoming Wing Training Day.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, OC 487, said
“I’d like to thank the staff who made themselves available at very short notice to transport the cadets, CIs Adam Reynolds and Cathy Davies, without them the Cadets would not have flown. Thanks are due also to OC 8 AEF, Flt Lt Jonathan Price and his team. All the cadets were able to fly and thoroughly enjoyed their day”
Flight Sergeants Bethany Edmonds & Nathan Steadman, with their FAW Certificates
Cadet Flight Sergeants Nathan Steadman & Bethany Edmonds recently attended the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing First Aid at Work Course. Both passed with flying colours and are now eligible to instruct the other cadets at 487 Sqn in First Aid and so helping their younger colleagues towards the Young First Aider Badge.
Both also want to use the first aid ticket as a support to future outdoor leadership qualifications, Basic Expedition Leader (BEL) and Mountain Leader (ML) Awards.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, presenting the Certificates on Final Parade, commented that the pair were the first Cadets in the Wing and amongst a rare few in the Corps to achieve this award. It augers well for the future at 487 Sqn, from the First Aid training and Adventure Training points of view that we have dedicated senior cadets committed to the acquisition of these awards and the willingness to pass on their experience and knowledge to the younger cadets. They are role models for them to aspire to.
The 487 cadets posing for a photo after the Final Parade
Cpl Ebony Evans with her Bronze Medal for the Javelin
Following the success of the Squadron at last months Wing Athletics competition, eight cadets were selected to represent the Wing team at the Regional Championships, this year held in Bedford, rather than the usual Leicester venue. The coach journey was a little longer than usual and all passengers were happy to disembark into the Bedfordshire sunshine. The day was blessed with good weather, the forecast was mixed, but it was warm all day long, the rain holding off until we were on the journey home.
The 487 cadets selected were as follows: -
Cdt Daniel Hemming Class B
Cdt Joe Griffiths Class B
Cdt Andrew Edmonds Class B
Cdt Deepak Dhaliwall Class B
Cdt Kurt Harris Class C
Sgt Maxx Pearse Class C
Cpl Ebony Evans Class E
Cdt Mellissa Torgbi Class E
Although all the 487 cadets did their best in the warm weather, a special mention goes to Cpl Ebony Evans, who collected a Bronze Medal in the Class E Javelin event.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, who attended and assisted with the timekeeping duties, said “I was very proud of all the 487 Cadets who had been selected, it’s wonderful when any Cadet gets selected to represent the Wing, but it’s very special to get eight picked at the same time. All the cadets from 487 are young enough, and hopefully will remain with the Squadron for some time to come, gaining more accolades.
Following the recent enrolment of the last set of recruits, 487 Squadron again opened its door to the Youth of the area.
This time a more manageable number of Nine, crossed the threshold to sign up. With their parents & guardians they received the induction presentation by OC 487, Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill and Sgt Nicky Gallivan, adult responsible for recruit training.
Any youngsters, between 13 & 17 in the Kingstanding & Perry Barr areas who are considering their options could do worse than to join the Air Cadets. The Squadron will have its next intake in September or October, following the end of the summer break. If there are any questions please respond to the join link on the webpage. www.487sqn.org.uk
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill commented: that without much effort the Squadron is continually able to attract youngsters from the whole of the North Birmingham area and beyond. This is due to a combination of things, the range of activities on offer, the success of the Unit in the various competitions, but especially the electronic media presence.
Cpl Anna-Marie Ewins recently helped out local fund-raisers at a charity event called “Scooterists for Heroes”. The event was held at the Adam and Eve pub in Birmingham.
Anna described the event “There were live bands, a burger van, clothing sellers and a raffle. All money went towards Help for Heroes. I collected over £200 which went towards a total of £5,200 for our troops. It was a really fun event and I loved every minute of it."
OC 487 Sqn, Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill, praised Anna for taking the time to offer her support for such a valuable cause. She’s sets a fine example to the younger cadets and clearly understands the importance of helping others.
Cadet Daniel Hemming with Medal and Blue
Cadet Daniel Hemming, following on from his success in the Inter-Wing Junior Rugby Tournament, with Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing winning the Cup, was selected to represent Central and East Region in the Corps Championships, held at RAF Cranwell in May 2014.
The Region finished a creditable 2nd overall in the national competition and Cadet Hemming collecting a Silver Medal in addition to his Regional Blue badge, received from Sqn Leader Bunn, C & E Regional Sports Officer.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill commented “Cadet Hemming has only been with the Squadron for a few months, but in that time has demonstrated that he is a natural athlete, excelling in all sports. Already having won medals in the W & B Athletics Championships, the C & E Rugby Competition and now at Regional level. I’m sure that in time, he will be a contender for Wing Sports Cadet of the Year”
A sunny Sunday in June saw 13 cadets and two staff from 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) sqn volunteering at the annual air show, held at RAF Cosford. For the second year running the 487 contingent were tasked with assisting the prestigious Cosford Club.
An early start was the order of the day, the cadets arriving at 487 HQ at 0615 hrs. Nevertheless spirits were high, and the early start paid off as the journey to RAF Cosford was uneventful and the forthcoming air show traffic was successfully avoided. Once on sight the cadets were signed in and made their way across the base to the Cosford Club, a central runway location for guests of the air show looking for a special air show experience.
487’s job was to check and sign people in to the exclusive venue, issue them with their wristbands and welcome packs, and police the venue to ensure only those on the guest list gained entry. The latter of these tasks became all the more demanding during the only rain shower of the day, with a rush of people trying to gain entry to the marquee to seek shelter from the rain.
Whilst not on shift the cadets were free to roam the show site, and enjoy the air show from the prime location of central runway. As always the programme boasted a magnificent display including the Vulcan, Typhoon, Blades Display Team, RAF Falcon Parachute Display Team, Apache Helicopter display and of course the ever-popular RAF Red Arrows.
OIC the Cosford Club, Flt Lt Phil Sampson, was delighted with the effort of the 487 cadets and staff, commenting, “The staff and cadets did an outstanding job in policing the entry requirements to the club throughout a busy day. Ultimately, it was their enthusiasm and hard work that proved to be the key to the success of the club on the day. I very much hope that we can continue this most successful collaborative venture in the future.”
Following a long day it was a quiet trip back to Birmingham, with most of the crew taking the opportunity to catch some well earned rest. All in attendance were in agreement it was a thoroughly enjoyable, if tiring day.
The 487 Contingent showing off the medals after the competition
Class B Captain, Cdt Edmonds collecting the Cup from Wing Commander Stuart Iles
487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Squadron sent a total of 24 Cadets to this years Wing Athletics Championships at Tudor Grange, held this year on a Saturday rather than the normal Sunday spot.
The Class B Youths brought home the Cup in that division and the Squadron finished 3rd overall in the Boys Competition.
There was a good haul of medals, below are listed the 487 Medal Winners:
Class B Youths
100 m Cdt Hemming Gold
200 m Cdt Griffiths Gold
Cdt Hemming Silver
800 m Cdt Dhaliwall Bronze
High Jump Cdt Edmonds Gold
Long Jump Cdt Edmonds Gold
Javelin Cdt Dhaliwall Gold
Class C Junior Men
100 m Sgt Pearse Silver
Cdt Harris Bronze
200 m Cdt Harris Bronze
Class E Senior Girls
Javelin Cpl Evans Gold
Long Jump Cdt Torgbi Gold
In addition many other 487 Cadets reached the finals of their particular events, gaining points in the overall scoring.
As a result of the success eight cadets from the Squadron have been selected to represent the Wing at the Central & East Regional Championships at Bedford on 8th June 2014. These are Sgt Maxx Pearse, Cpl Ebony Evans, Cdts Hemming, Griffiths, Edmonds, Dhaliwall, Harris and Torgbi.
Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill was “delighted with the success of the day and the large number of cadets selected for the Wing team. Well done to all”.
This May cadets from 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn ATC took part in a 10km sponsored walk to raise money for the National Memorial Arboretum. The event took place within the grounds of the arboretum itself. Before the event there was a chance to visit the tree planted and dedicated by 487 themselves, back in 2008.
The arboretum is based in the Staffordshire countryside and boasts 50,000 maturing trees and nearly 300 memorials. It is a tribute to those who serve their country, die in conflict or have a special reason for being remembered. The site plays host to around 300,000 visitors per year, including Service personnel, veterans, cadet forces, students, groups and individuals. The Act of Remembrance, including a Silence, is observed daily in the Millennium Chapel.
487 were contacted by volunteer staff at the arboretum and invited to take part in the sponsored event, the squadron were of course delighted and happy to oblige. Despite very negative forecasts, the weather was kind on the day with only some blustery winds and a few showers to deal with, a vast improvement on the predicted heavy rain.
Eleven cadets and two staff took part in the event, all completing the event successfully and with most in high spirits. Supervising staff member on the day, Sgt (ATC) Nicky Gallivan, reflected on the participants efforts, “Those cadets involved can be very proud of their efforts today. The squadron had four events taking place over the Midlands today, meaning that a lot of our walkers were junior cadets, very early on in their career. With the team spirit on display today it really does bode well for 487’s future.”
The squadron hope to raise as much money as possible for the National Memorial Arboretum, donations can still be placed at http://www.justgiving.com/487nationalarboretum
Sgt Kieran Small opens the 487 scoring
Cdt Joe Johnson take a shot at goal
After a series of straight-forward, if hard fought wins, in the earlier rounds, the semi-final against 491 Squadron was an entirely different affair. For the first time this season 487 were unable to field eleven players on the day. Further, three of the team were making debuts. Against a full strength opposition, an already difficult game was made much harder. The coach elected for a 4-4-1 formation with Sgt Kieran Small playing in the lone striker role.
491 Squadron were recently re-formed some two years back, they were until that time a Detached Flight of 487, and based in Aston are our closest geographical neighbours in the Wing.
The 491 side was well known to OC 487 as many of them have turned out for the Wing side. Regional player, Kareem Milligan was earmarked before the game as requiring special attention but his team mates caused also caused mayhem in the 487 defence.
As in the previous round the game was played at the Barr Beacon Academy Leisure Centre. Saturday 26h April, 10:30 kick off. The sun was shining, blue skies and the wind much reduced from the last time. A pleasant enough day for a semi-final tie. Recent heavy rains dictated that the game was to be played on the Nr 2 pitch.
487 in their usual royal blue kit almost colour clashed with the 491 shirts of black & blue strips, reminding the author of the Birmingham City v Inter Milan clash during the 1950s.
Recently promoted skipper, Sgt Kieran Small performed the opening ceremonies with the 491 captain and winning the toss elected to kick against the wind but with the slope in the first half.
From the first whistle it was evident that this was not going to be easy. The game quickly became a midfield battle with sporadic attempts at goal. The 487 breakthrough came in the 8th minute, with a superb half volley from skipper, Kieran Small. The strike was hit from just outside the 18 yard box and was unstoppable. Within three minutes, 487 were two goals to the good, this time lady luck played her part. Another Small effort from an oblique angle was misjudged by the 491 keeper, allowing the ball deflect into the net in an attempt to catch it.
In the 29th minute, 487 were awarded a corner kick. Cdt Joe Johnston, 487’s left footed winger, placed the ball, took stock and struck the ball firmly into the goal area. Whilst most of the observers present agreed it was a well taken kick, another slice of luck went the way of the boys in blue, with the kick going directly into the goal.
At half time, with the score-line set at 3 – 0, 487 seemed bound to progress to the final. The first half had been scrappy and 487 had the best of fortune, and save for a few probing runs by left winger Johnson there was actually little to shout about. The half time talk focussed on “not throwing it away”. The 491 lads were still dangerous in attack and complacency was to be avoided. The game plan for the second half was to prevent 491 getting an early goal. But …..
… within a few minutes of the restart, the 487 defence went AWOL and a 491 strike hit the post, rebounding to a passing defender who managed to clear the danger of a follow up shot. A short while later 491 notched their first of the game. Then in the 43rd minute, the referee awarded a penalty to 491, defender Grewall received a yellow card for a deliberate professional foul.
The ball was placed on the spot, and following a short run up the kick was directly aimed at the keeper who easily caught the ball. Again 487 had ridden their luck. In the 49th minute 491 scored a second, making the score 3 – 2. This reverse putting immense pressure on the 10 men of Kingstanding. Flt Lt Phil Parsons on the side lines bemoaning their luck and missed chances.
With the game entering the last quarter, the 487 team finally wrested some control of the game, perhaps with fatigue setting in, and began to create a few chances. Following a number of unfruitful attacks they score the 4th goal in the 60th minute. The scorer was Joe Johnson. Another 487 strike from Cpl Connor Fahey seemed to settle matters. However, five minutes from time 491 again breached the fragile blue line making the score 5 – 3.
A nervy last phase for the 487 OC & coach, adding more grey hairs, eventually finished on the 70th minute with the full time whistle.
Following the game the 487 team awarded the Man of the Match trophy jointly to Cadets Joe Johnson & Mel Torgbi. Sqn OC and Team Manager bemoaned the performance “We have fielded over twenty players this season and we’ve yet to put out the strongest eleven, if we ever manage it, somebody’s in for a hammering”. 491 were by far the best side we have played this year and it was a tight game, especially at 3 - 2, they hit the post and their penalty miss was a big turning point in the match, it’s a thin line between success and failure. We had a few lucky breaks; it could have easily gone the other way”.
Sunday, 30th March started with a 07:00 hours meet in Birmingham, Three cadets from 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Squadron had been selected for the Junior inter wing rugby tournament at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. Cadets Daniel Hemming, Joe Griffiths and Andrew Edmonds represented their Wing and Squadron in the competition.
Once there, we met up with other cadets to make the Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing Junior Rugby team. The day started off with a brief from Squadron Leader McCarroll, the Wing Sports Officer and the issue of the team shirts and positions, then it was swiftly onto a warm up from our number 8, the team captain.
Our first game was to be played at 09:45 hours, but was slightly delayed due to other teams still turning up. The team got onto the pitch to start the round robin tournament; however competition nerves soon kicked in and the game slipped away from us, to see us take our first and only defeat of the tournament at 10 - 0
The second game saw us take a 14 - 0 win, then we swiftly moved onto our third game which we won 21 – 0. The fourth game was a complete annihilation by the Warwickshire and Birmingham team, but the fifth and final tie was a very close game with the team scoring only one try to win the competition overall and bring the trophy back to Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing as Central & East Region Champions.
Wg Cdr Stuart Iles and Cdt Sgt Bethany Edmonds
April 2014 saw Cdt Sgt Bethany Edmonds of 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Squadron invested as the Lord Lieutenant's Cadet for the West Midlands County. Representatives from the Sea Cadets Corps & Army Cadet Force were also honoured, alongside Air Cadet representatives from other areas.
The ceremony was performed by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands, Paul Sabapathy CBE and took place in the Council Chamber at the Council House in Birmingham. The cadets were presented with framed certificates and badges for their uniforms. The formalities were witnessed by proud parents, family and staff from the various contingents, including Wg Cdr Stuart Iles of Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing. All present agreed that the cadets were excellent examples of the three cadet forces. There were also representatives from the three cadet forces to form a guard of honour for the arriving guests, 487 provided four cadets to assist with this.
A Citation for each Cadet was read out by their Unit Commanders, prior to receipt of their Certificates, highlighting their individual achievements during their time as Cadets. As OC 487 Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill was unavailable owing to cadet duties on Ascension Island, 487’s Wing Staff Officer Sqn Ldr Pat McCarroll took the reigns.
As Lord Lieutenant's Cadets, their duties will include accompanying the Lord Lieutenant at special civic and military engagements during the forthcoming year. The Lord Lieutenant was full of praise for the cadets, stating they were a credit to themselves and their organisations.
Sgt Edmonds has been with the unit just over two years, although she has managed to achieve a lot in this short space of time, not least her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. She is a cadet instructor on the squadron, taking responsibility for many subjects with the new recruits and specialising in Adventure Training, which she runs alongside other NCO’s with staff support. Sgt Edmonds has represented the squadron at numerous events such as Remembrance Parades, Poppy Selling and charity bag packs. She has represented both her squadron and Wing at various sporting events.
Outside the Sqn, she attends Arthur Terry School 6th Form, studying Maths, History and Economics at A Level. She has gained awards for her Irish Dancing at the Carey Academy, indeed was U16 World Irish Figure Dancing Champion. She also takes part in many sports for her School and for local clubs. She does part-time and evening work to fund these activities and also has a self-employed beauty products sales business.
Wg Cdr Stuart Iles commented, “This is a great honour for Sgt Edmonds; I enjoyed listening to her citation and hearing what she had achieved during her time in the ATC, and what she hopes to achieve in the rest of her cadet career. It makes me very proud to see her invested today as the Lord Lieutenant's Cadet. It is a reward for her efforts and a measure of her achievements. A fine example for the younger cadets to follow.”
Monday 24th March
The day I’d been waiting for was finally here - it had felt like forever that I was counting down the days for the Easter camp to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. I was up at 5:45 am, and a taxi came directly to my house at 6:30 to take me to Heathrow Airport. It was a quick journey down as I was able to sleep most of the way. When I arrived at Heathrow, I was fairly nervous, since I didn’t know anyone, but once I got to the meeting point I was completely at ease. I found the group of Air Cadets very quickly, and signed in with a member of staff then checked in my luggage. I then met a girl called Jessica, who was a cadet from LASER Region, who also didn’t know anybody, so we used this common ground to become friends, and she remained my friend for the camp. We had the chance to explore the airport for a few hours, and then boarded the plane. On the flight, I was sat between two cadets from Manchester. There were many cadets from their wing, and they all congregated near us on the plane, so it was a great chance for me to get to know a lot of people before we’d even arrived in Cyprus. We landed at Larnaca Airport just after 1800 local time, though didn't leave the airport until over an hour later after collecting our luggage, and from the airport it was a further hour and a half journey on an extremely warm coach to get to the base. We were assigned rooms of 3 cadets, in a basic but clean accommodation block, then had packed lunches (or as they’re more commonly know, ‘horror bags’), and then had a few hours of free time before bed, which we spent in a Cypriot take away shop on base. The evening was occupied by everyone trying to interpret the wide variety of accents on the camp - as a Corps wide camp, there were people from right across England, Wales and Scotland. Lights out was at 11, which was only 9 pm in UK time but we were all so tired that we went straight to sleep.
We were up at 6 am on Tuesday. Breakfast was at 7, and from there we went straight for a briefing from various people on base, such as the Police, Environmental Health, and the Station Warrant Officer. We were then split up into two squadrons, which were then further divided into flights. I was in No.2 Squadron, D flight. In these flights, we went on the usual FamEx, where we had a chance to see just how different an overseas base is from a UK base. After this, we were all tired out completely, so we had the camp photo then went for lunch in the JRM, and then back to the block to get changed into civvies - it was far too hot to spend the day in uniform. We had a few hours on the beach on base to relax. After this, we had the chance to go to the airfield, and after being there for only a few minutes we saw a C17 and a Voyager. We then had dinner in the mess, and had free time. After a long day, we were all ready for lights out at 10.
On Wednesday, we were up at 5 am, in order to go to a training area for ‘force development exercises’. This involved ‘shark infested custard’ activities in new groups, which were a mix of the flights, so we got to know a lot of the cadets on camp. These activities encouraged leadership and teamwork, because there was a lot of competition between the groups to complete all the activities first. After the morning’s activities, we had packed lunches then changed out of uniform into civvies. The different squadrons then went to different places. My squadron went go karting on base. It turned out I wasn’t very good at it - on my first lap of the course, I crashed through the barriers and they had to stop the karting for about 20 minutes to put the track back together. However, it was still fun. We had dinner in the JRM, and then went swimming for the evening. Lights out was at 10 pm again.
We were up at 6 am. After breakfast we drove to Episkopi, which is an army base not too far from Akrotiri. We went rock climbing, which was the hardest I’ve ever done. We then went onto a DCCT range, which I’d never done before but had always wanted to do. It turned out to be fun, even if I wasn’t good at it. We had lunch back at Akrotiri and changed into uniform, and then went to the other side of the base where we visited the Olive Harvest Project. This was where we got to see the U-2, a reconnaissance aircraft with technology beyond anything else that exists today. We had a chance to explore the hangar, see a U-2 come to land, and visit the section that deals with the space suits that the pilots must wear whilst flying, since they fly at such a height. This lasted for the entire afternoon, then after dinner we were back into our groups from the previous day to do ‘X-Factor practice’. It was a few hours where we had to think of a sketch that lasted about 5 minutes which was planned to perform on the last night of camp. After this, we had lights out at 11 pm.
We were up at 6:30 am, which was considered a lie in! We got into the minibuses and about an hour drive to Troodos, which was a base in the mountains. Once here, we split into our squadrons and then into groups of our own choice for a laser quest like none of us had ever been to before - it was in a paintballing course, so it was outdoor and there was a lot to hide behind, making it much more interesting. Our group ended up winning the tournament overall. After this, we had a quick lunch in Troodos JRM; we then got the mini buses to the top of the mountains. From here, we walked back down. It was about 3 km, but felt a lot longer because it was very hot and the walk was all on uneven footing. We handrailed down the side of a river which eventually led to a waterfall. Some people were brave enough to go into the pool at the bottom but even though the air temperature was so high, the water was still freezing, so I only went as far as paddling in it. From there, we went back onto the minibuses, and met up with the other squadron at a restaurant. The food was local cuisine, so there was a lot of food none of us had tried before. After this, we went back to the base and prepped our uniform before lights out at 10:30.
Reveille was at 6 am. After breakfast, we travelled to a training area which was used by No.1 Overseas Squadron ATC - an Air Cadet squadron like we go to, which was used by both teenagers whose parents were based at Akrotiri, and local Cypriot teenagers who were interested in the RAF. They hosted us for the day, and we were involved in their day of fieldcraft training. The day involved concealment, teamwork challenges, and a mission in which we had to divide into groups which were mixed with overseas and British cadets, and follow some cryptic instructions to navigate the area in search for intel, which added up to give us the final piece of information. After this, we had a session on field first aid. It took place in a mock up village, used for real military training. The situation was that a car had crashed into a house, the casualties didn’t speak English, and we had a medical kit identical to that used in war zones. This was a completely new experience for me - I’d already done a basic first aid course at cadets, and that training was stretched to the limit in this activity. We had to call on our own knowledge, use our initiative with the lack of resources, and also put up with the external stimuli, such as dust and sand blowing in our eyes, the extreme heat, and the session leader throwing in extra problems for us to overcome, such as first aiders collapsing. This was a really educational activity, as my first aid knowledge was both refreshed and added to. After this, we were all ready to go back to the block for showers. After we’d got into civvies, we drove back to the beach we were at earlier in the week, for a barbeque. The Overseas Squadron even joined us that night. Although it had been hot that day, the night was cold, especially with the sea wind. When we went back to the block, we’d barely been back for five minutes when there was a flash storm out of nowhere, and we were pelted with rain like I’d never seen in my life! We had free time, which we were able to spend outside because the storm went as quickly as it came, and then lights out was at 10:30 because we’d be losing an hour’s sleep with the clocks changing.
We were up at 6:30 am, and then split into our squadrons straight after breakfast. My squadron had free time until 9:15, which was occupied with tidying our rooms up. We went to a local flea market, where we were extremely tempted to buy a chicken for a euro, but were disappointed because the staff wouldn’t let us. After that, we went to a local mall, where we first went to an ice skating rink which was actually the bottom floor of the shopping centre. We then were allowed to go shopping, but my group just spent it in the food hall, where we all got McDonalds. After this, we travelled about an hour away to a pool resort. There was an outdoor pool, with deckchairs around it, and a restaurant which had a buffet waiting for us when we arrived. We all spent the day relaxing and sleeping by the pool. We also had our dinner there, and had the entertainment of three Cypriot men teaching us how to dance whilst we ate. They performed a hilarious dance which involved one of them dancing through the tables and getting all the cadets to balance cups on his head - in the end, he had close to 20! We then had a disco, after which we headed back to the block. We had planned to do X-Factor practice, but were all so tired that we were in bed by 10:30.
We were up at 6, and then travelled to Roman-Greek theatre, which wasn’t far from Episkopi, called Currium. Here, we entertained ourselves for an hour by testing the acoustics of the theatre, which meant that if you stood in a certain point and spoke in a whisper, you could be heard all around it. After this, we headed to a place called ‘The Egg Club’ which was a clay pigeon shooting club. We had a practice, then a competition, then a chance to shoot off all our remaining rounds. We went back to the block for packed lunches and got changed for the beach. We had a chance to go on banana boats, which was something I’d always wanted to do. You had to get onto this blow up banana and hold onto the handles of it while being pulled through the sea by a speedboat. We fell in more times than I could count. We all showered, had dinner, and then went bowling. To everyone’s frustration, I had absolutely no technique, except from basically dropping the ball and letting it roll down the lane, yet I still won. We had X-Factor practice, then lights out at 10:30.
After getting up at 6, we travelled to the base’s Air Traffic Control. After a tour of this section, we headed to the Fire-fighting section, where we had a chance to use the hoses and see how physically demanding the job is. We were tasked with pulling the ladders out of the truck (which none of us could do) and holding the saws, etc, which are used for cutting through aircraft and other vehicles when there's a fire. We could barely pick them up, so it was astounding that the firemen could run with them. We had lunch in the mess, then got changed into our civvies and had a few hours’ journey into Paphos, which was a tourist town on the coast. Once there, we had free time. We all expected to be able to spend the last of our Euros, but didn’t realise it was Cyprus National Day, which was like a bank holiday, so most shops were shut. We’d been briefed by the staff to meet up at a designated point, and when we got there, we discovered that they’d surprised us with a trip on ‘The Wave Dancer’ which was a huge boat they’d hired out for us. It had a barbeque and a live band on. Whilst on the boat, once fairly far out to sea, we had the chance to jump off the back of the boat, which was a huge adrenaline rush, so you didn’t even feel how cold the water was. It was a brilliant last night of camp, and a chance for us all to spend the last night together in a way none of us will forget. We headed back to Akrotiri, and had lights out at 11. Since we were all so tired, we had to scrap the X-Factor, which was a relief for all of us!
Today was the last day of camp. We were up at 6, and packed up the block until 10. After this, we went to a local go-karting track, which was much better than the one we’d been to previously in the week - the karts were faster, and the track was much harder to navigate. We had our last mess lunch, and then went back to the block. We were all aware that the Red Arrows were in Cyprus while we were - they’d arrived the previous day. However, none of us expected that we’d get a chance to go and see them, but that’s exactly what happened next. It was a brilliant way to end the camp. We got to have photos in front of them, and then went back to the block, where we had a final parade. After speeches from the staff, we had the usual ‘paper plate awards’ that famously end any Air Cadet Camp, we then loaded the coaches to take us to Larnaca Airport. The journey was spent watching a DVD compiled by the staff, with pictures from the past 10 days. The flight back was uneventful - most people slept. Once back in Heathrow, we had emotional goodbyes, which were genuinely sad, because with the camp being Corps-wide, there was a chance we wouldn’t see each other again, unlike usual Wing Camps, where you’re likely to bump into them at some event. There were a lot of tears, which is proof at how strong these friendships could become in such a short space of time. It had truly been the best camp I’d ever been on, and definitely the highlight of my cadet career so far. I’d recommend this camp to anyone - if you ever get the chance to go to RAF Akrotiri with the Air Cadets, or any overseas camp, put your name down straight away, and please take me in your suitcase!
BACK: Singh, Small, Pierce, Bhakta, Griffiths, Daly (Capt) Head Coach O’Neill, FRONT: Farr, Edmonds, Fahey, Hemming, Johnston
An absolute age has gone by since 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) sqn’s win against 29F in the last round. A two month hiatus enforced by waterlogged pitches and a busy schedule of activities delayed the fixture against our north Birmingham rivals, 495 (Sutton Coldfield) Squadron. As with all derby games, the geographical proximity of our neighbours brought with it an air of anticipation, the long delay making the tie even more mouth-watering. On the day, both teams fielded weakened sides, Saturday not being the best day for busy teenagers; nevertheless both Squadrons were able to put out eleven players.
After a long search in the locality for a suitable venue, the Barr Beacon Academy Leisure Centre was selected. Due to its elevated position, there being nothing higher between it and the Ural Mountains, the pitch was perfect. The local climate at these altitudes allows water to drain downhill. The ferocious winds also helped to dry the ground. The Beacon was named in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, where a great bonfire was lit to spread the news of invasion throughout the Country.
The rivalry with our neighbours, goes back some years, an early fixture at the same venue attracted a large crowd, see picture one.
The tie was scheduled for Saturday 8th March, 10:30 kick off. The weather forecast was good and spirits were high. 487 decked out in their normal royal blue outfit faced the white shirted lads from Sutton, it might have been Birmingham City v Real Madrid in the European Cup Final, but it wasn’t ….
Skipper Sgt Ryan Daly of 487 won the toss and elected to kick with the wind which was gusting along the length of the pitch. In the 4th minute, Cpl Kieran Small picking up a short pass, curled a beautiful shot over the outstretched arms of the Sutton keeper into the roof of the net. A second goal, just three minutes later, from Cdt Joe Griffiths seemed to indicate an easy day for the Royal Blues. However, with a high degree of pluckiness, 495 settled more into the game, making the 487 lads work harder, but the early two goal deficit meant they had a mountain to climb, or was it a Beacon ??
The 487 team huffed & puffed, struggling as the half wore on, giving heart to the Sutton boys, the blues game plan had gone “to pot”. They seemed to lose their shape, perhaps missing some of their more experienced colleagues, and were unable to penetrate the 495 defence until late in the half. During this period an ill-timed tackle earned Cpl Nik Bhakta a yellow card. Bhakta was not the only culprit; Sgt Ryan Daly had more slices than an average wedding cake, the ball flying off his boots in random directions.
One incident seemed to epitomise the period: during a prolonged attack the 495 goal seemed to be shielded by some form of invisible force field. The 6-yard box was crowded with players, one set frantically trying to score the others equally energetically attempting to clear the ball. Hitting the post, swiping air shots, last ditch defending and some brave goalkeeping from the Sutton Nr 1, thwarted all the efforts of the 487 team. 30 seconds of sheer mayhem, but highly entertaining.
Towards half-time, Joe Griffiths notched his second, making the half time score a respectable 3 - 0 to the Kingstanding side.
After a brief half time talk the game resumed, with 487 playing in the same haphazard manner, leaving the manager wondering if anybody ever listened to him. Although clearly not firing on “all cylinders”, the 487 team had a few bright moments, usually involving Cdt Andrew Edmonds, playing on the right wing. He terrorised the 495 defenders, his mazy runs perplexing the Sutton rearguard. He provided most of the crosses into the penalty area for the forwards to attack. Another player making his 487 debut was Daniel Hemming, he settled easily into the side and this augers well for the future of the team.
Early in the second period, there was an unexpected piece of skill from Joe Johnston, he managed to get behind his marker and into the penalty area. The 495 defender instinctively reacted and tugged the 487 forward, down he went and a penalty was the result. Cpl Bhakta stepped up and demanded the ball, many in the crowd could hardly watch. After a short run up he struck the ball, the keeper had already made up his mind to dive to the right, but the ball went straight down the middle into the net.
At 4 – 0, the 487 side relaxed and quickly made it five, debutante Hemming the scorer. It seemed that it was “all over bar the shouting”. 487 even had a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside and were in cruise mode, perhaps too relaxed. Then, in a sudden break from the back the 495 strikers, outnumbering the 487 defence struck the base of the post before the keeper was able to gather the rebound from the feet of a forward and clutch the ball to his body. 487 had been warned, but paid little attention: shortly after, 495 were able to trouble the scoreboard with a simple tap in. The 495 gander was well and truly up, the very next attack saw the white shirted boys rampant, a goal-bound shot was inexplicably intercepted by an off-side forward, perhaps seeking personal glory, blasting the ball into the empty net, only for the whistle to allow reality to dawn. Only then did the full horror of his actions sink in. Head low he pondered the moment.
It was the last chance to turn the game, 487 scored two more late goals, from Hemming and the Squadron’s latest Wing Footballer, Joe Johnston. The final score 7 – 1.
The 487 Man of the Match, Cdt Andrew Edmonds, modestly taking the reward, faced the Press Corps in the post match interview ”This wasn’t as easy as the score-line suggests, 495 Sqn had some good players and we had to work for the goals. I thought we showed some decent touches on the ball and were clinical when it mattered. We were camped in their half for much of the game and could afford a few moments to switch off, but don’t tell that to the gaffer”.
487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Cadets Anne-Marie Ewins and Melissa Torgbi attended a Pre GS Course on Saturday 22 Feb 2014.
The course involved instruction of cadets awaiting a Gliding Scholarship in the basics of glider pilot training using the simulators at the Regional Activity Centre at based at RAF Wyton.
The lectures and practical ‘hands on’ instruction using the simulators were provided by Wing Commander Bernard Tisley OBE. The course content included: -
The primary & secondary effects of the controls on aircraft movement - Rolling, Pitching & Yawing
The co-ordinated use of controls
Turns & turning onto headings
Stalling & recovery
Approach & Landing
A good understanding of Principles of Flight is necessary for the course and all cadets intending to apply, should revise the ACPs before attending.
Cdt Melissa Torgbi wrote “The Pre Gliding Scholarship Training Course was extremely useful, as by the end of the course I knew a lot more about how to fly a glider (with the help of a simulator and an instructor), the procedures I need follow to have a successful flight and some of the theory behind flying a glider. The staff were really supportive and encouraging and it was definitely a worthwhile experience”
Cdt Anna-Marie Ewins, said “The course taught us how to pilot a glider and gave us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. It was a really good course and I thoroughly enjoyed it”
February 2014 saw 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn open its doors to a record intake of 19 new recruits. After an induction evening with parents and guardians present, the new recruits now begin an intensive 3 month training programme working towards enrolment and First Class classification.
Throughout their training programme the new cadets will cover a wide spectrum of subjects such as ATC and RAF History, Airmanship and Basic Navigation, as well as an introduction to rifle safety, first aid and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. There is also an intensive period of drill and uniform maintenance training.
The programme is overseen by 487’s recruitment officer, Sgt (ATC) Nicky Gallivan, with the assistance of the sqn’s cadet NCO team. Sgt (ATC) Gallivan added, “Running recruits programmes in intakes is not only an efficient way of managing individual cadets learning, it also provides a great opportunity for new cadets to form friendships and bonds early on and help each other out in areas where they may be struggling.”
487 sqn is excited to have added so many new cadets to the fold, and we look forward to watching the development and integration into the wider squadron over the coming months.
February saw 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn host it’s annual presentation evening at the Kingstanding branch Royal British Legion. A chance for parents and family members of cadets, as well as some past and present faces, to see and celebrate the achievements of the cadets and sqn in 2013.
This year’s attendance lived up to the success of the previous presentation evenings, with the function hall full to bursting. Once the visitors and cadets were sat down and settled, OC 487 Flt Lt Brendan O’Neill got the night off to a flying start with a look back at the highlights from 2013. There were plenty to pick from, such as team and individual sporting achievements (including representation at Regional level), winning the shooting competition, but of course the pick of the bunch was 487’s retention of the Per Ardua trophy for the fourth consecutive year; presented to the best overall squadron in Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing.
Civilian Committee Chairwoman Mrs Jane Jennings took the opportunity to talk to potential new members, as well as giving an overview of the important role the Civilian Committee play in maintaining the sqn. Following this was a short break and chance for everyone to recharge their glasses, then it was on to the main event: presentation of certificates and awards.
This years awards were presented by 487’s Wing Staff Officer, Sqn Ldr Pat McCarroll. Every cadet on the sqn was presented with a certificate listing their achievements throughout 2013, with a, “Welcome to 487 Sqn” certificate for new recruits. As always there were a few trophies for those cadets who had gone the extra mile. This year CWO Kenny Morris won the double, picking up both the Best Sporting Cadet and Best Drill Cadet. Cdt Gary Connelly won the Service to 487 trophy, presented to the cadet who has attended and supported the sqn at the most community events.
This brought us to the ‘big one’, best overall cadet, presented to the cadet who has excelled in all areas of Air Cadet life and achieved the most from a collective point of view. The trophy for 2013 went to Sgt Beth Edmonds, and it would be fair to say it came as a surprise! A delighted Sgt Edmonds told us, “I just don’t know what to say, I’m in shock! Happy shock though! It is nice to know all the hard work and effort really can pay off.”
The evening was brought to a close with the traditional raffle, and a sense of optimism for 2014. Could 487 sqn retain the Per Ardua for a record fifth year? It remains to be seen.
The 487 Sqn Team: BACK: Abbott, Smith, Small, Harris, Pierce, Daly, Bhakta, FRONT: Singh, Farr, Griffiths, Morris (Capt), Edmonds, Fahey
This years Warwickshire & Birmingham Football competition drew together 487 (Kingstanding & Perry Barr) Sqn and 29F (Rugby) Sqn. This was a reverse of last year’s semi-final tie and took place at the Ullesthorpe Stadium deep in the Leicestershire countryside on Sunday 13th January 2014.
With 487 Sqn fielding an understrength side, many of last year’s team had either left for university or were not available for selection, which together with thoughts that 29 F would wish to gain revenge for last years defeat, meant that the lads from Kingstanding feared a difficult game. Kick-off was scheduled for 12 noon. This was fortunate timing, because the day dawned, following a cold night, with a heavy frost covering the ground across the West Midlands. However, the bright sunshine of the morning did its job and thawed out the grass to make an excellent surface on which to play the game. The obligatory pre-match photographs and final team talks done, the game kicked off at the appointed time.
The game started with a bang, an early corner, taken by the 487 Sqn Captain CWO Kenny Morris, floated over the crowded 29F penalty box, falling to Cpl Nik Bhakta who had ghosted, unseen, into the six-yard box, and totally unmarked, blasted with a deft sidefoot half-volley into the roof of the net. Defenders and the keeper were unable to prevent the mighty strike. Cpl Bhakta, a six year veteran of the side turned to salute the crowd, following his first goal in five years. The goal was scored 45 seconds into the game, with many of the spectators not yet in the stadium. 0 – 1.
However, if the 487 side thought the 29F team were beaten they were mistaken. Resolutely they forged forward in search of an equaliser, and were rewarded with a penalty kick in the 12th minute. The 487 culprit was none other than the erstwhile hero Cpl Bhakta. The 29F Centre Forward placed the ball on the spot and following a short run up struck the ball. Although a decent enough strike it was aimed directly at the 487 keeper, Cpl Maxx Pearse, who safely held the shot, preventing any lurking strikers from following up and spoiling his efforts.
The Blues of 487 now had a little more possession. Wingers Cdt Andrew Edmonds & Cpl Kieran Small were causing mayhem down both flanks and the 29F defenders were at a loss to cope with them. In the 19th minute, Cpl Small tearing down the left wing, launched a powerful cross, which was hit so firmly, the 29F keeper was deceived by the trajectory and it rocketed obliquely, over his head into the net. All witnesses agreed a mighty slice of luck had come 487’s way. 0 – 2.
Towards the end of the half, 487’s new forward Cdt Joe Griffiths, signed in the close season transfer window from 165 Sqn, latched onto a well timed pass and struck the ball firmly past the keeper to make it three unanswered strikes to the North Birmingham side. 0 – 3.
Two minutes later the Referee brought the first period to a close. Half time score, 0 – 3.
The second half brought the expected on-rush from the Rugby boys, pouring forward at every opportunity forcing the 487 midfield back toward their own goal-line; however this tactic meant that the 29F team left large spaces for the two wingers to exploit when 487 regained the ball. Following a long pass from deep in the 487 half, Cpl Kieran Small chased towards the 29F goal, the Centre Half recognising the danger closed in on Cpl Small and the ball. The inevitable impact took place. When two objects moving at speed collide, the direction of travel following the crash is entirely random. The 29F defender went to ground, and Cpl Small, the lighter of the two, was immediately projected vertically upward, where shortly, after had gravity reasserted its influence, returned the said cadet to the earth with a mighty bump. Between the collision with the defender and the meeting with the planet, Cpl Small was slow to regain his feet. Some in the crowd turned away fearing the worst, but after a few words of encouragement from team mates and the side-lines he quickly recovered putting the incident aside.
The 29F onslaught continued throughout the second period, but again following a breakdown in an attack, the 487 midfield regained the initiative. In the 53rd minute, Cdt Glendon Smith, promoted from the Sqn youth academy, and making a debut first team appearance, followed up a move of fine passing between the 487 midfielders and forward line, and was able to powerfully shoot past the 29F keeper for the final goal of the game. 0 – 4.
This was the last nail in the 29F coffin, although they had gamely fought off the first half setbacks they now knew the game was up. The remainder of the match was played out in good humour and following the final whistle a round of three cheers echoed between the teams.
The Man of the Match committee, torn between the many outstanding contributions on the day, finally gave the accolade to Cpl Kieran Small; his surging runs on the left wing, 100% effort and a goal were the deciding criteria. A close second was Cdt Andrew Edmonds whose jinking runs, dodging tackles in the style of Stanley Matthews were worthy of note.
The 487 Man of the Match, Cpl Kieran Small, accepting the trophy, mused ”This was a difficult game for the lads, following a long winter break, it took a while to get going, but I’m well chuffed with the team performance and I’m please to pick up the trophy. The Rugby boys were well up for it, but I felt although they had a few chances we were in control for most of the match.”