The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Blackpool on
This is a Piece by Flight Lieutenant Andrew Nickson, the Commanding Officer of 177 (Blackpool Airport) Squadron. We decided to print it “as written” as it shows the great delight and pleasure that is experienced by not only the cadets but also the staff on such a visit. A real and genuine enjoyment of assisting young people achieve amazing experiences.
I was ask to find out staff and cadet availability but to keep the details of Who, Where and When confidential to myself and myself alone until further advised.
I held a very interesting meeting with my Cadet NCO’s informing them that I would be asking their school/college for them to be absent for a day very soon but that I was not at that time able to say why; you can imagine the speculation that followed
When Finally told by the Lord Lieutenant that I could inform my squadron of the precise nature of the event you can imagine the excitement and pride they showed.
On the Wednesday morning we gathered early at our Squadron Headquarters which is at the opposite side of the Airport to where their Royal Highness’s were to arrive.
What followed was a few hours of ironing and polishing.
We arrived at Hanger 3 and were met by the Police protection officers and Lord Shuttleworth who briefed them on what we were going to do.
Although we had permission to be present, we were told that our presence was actually arranged as a surprise for HRH Duchess of Cambridge as she is the Royal Patron of the Air Cadets.
On arrival the Royal couple disembarked the Helicopter and made their way to the lounge inside the Hanger, at this point we quietly crept out and formed up in a single column from the hanger to the Royal vehicle.
As the Duke and Duchess started to leave they saw us there and were both very surprised, this was evident by the smiles on their faces
They were on a very tight schedule for their scheduled visits but they took the time to stop and speak to every cadet, shaking hands and inquiring as to how long they have been a cadet, what they enjoyed most and what they hope to do in the future. The Duke was very interested to know how much flying they had done and even spoke about his time flying the Grob Tutor.
I was at the end of the row and was able to present a Squadron Plaque to the Duchess, I was even able to explain the history of he design.
A few comments from Cadets
CWO Elizabeth Barr, who is about to age out as a cadet and has recently joined 177 with a view to becoming an Officer said ” I’ve only been on this Squadron a month and I get to finish my cadet time taking part in a Royal visit – wonderful”
Cadet Cpl Tilly Wells said ” What an Honour, I’ve got to shake the hand of a future King and Queen”
For Myself as a Squadron commander, It is always an honour to be able to have my cadets represent the Squadron and their home town whatever the event but this type of visit is always extra special as we get to greet such high profile guest to our home before anyone else..
As we left the pleasure was seeing the smiles on the faces of my cadets”