This week the ATC 75 torch relay went on a journey through London as part of it’s tour from John O’Groats to Lands End with a member of each Squadron in the UK handling it.
On Monday 15th August 2016 the torch was handed over from Kent Wing to representatives of London Wing, namely 56 (Woolwich) Squadron, at Woolwich Barracks in South East London. They immediately got to work and took the torch over the Millennium Dome to catch a glance westward to the sights the torch would visit over the coming two days. The handover ceremony was presided over by Wing Commander Colin Gale, who had this to say following the torch’s tour.
“It’s been 75 years since the formation of the Air Training Corps. In 2016 a decision was made as part of the celebrations to hold a torch relay carrying the 75th anniversary torch from John O’Groats to Lands End, travelling through every Wing of the Corps. As part of the event London Wing had the privilege of taking the torch around a number of London landmarks for two days. 40 cadets representing the 29 squadrons from across the wing shared the honour of carrying the torch around London.”
Some very special access was granted to London Wing, including a private tour of Number 10, which revealed some very important places for UK Government. After this the cadets crossed Whitehall to the Ministry Of Defence where they were received by Air Vice Marshall Edward Stringer CBE, Assistant Chief Of The Defence Staff (Operations) who kindly invited the cadets to sit around a table which has hosted many high level meetings. In his address he remarked,
“Conversations take place within this building at the highest levels of the military which revolve around cadets.” He went on to say, “You are one of the shining beacons of the country and it wants to see more of you. The idea of taking this torch around the country is a wonderful one, and it’s absolutely right that you bought it here to the MOD. I’m honoured that I have the opportunity to talk to you, so thank you.”
One unique event whilst at the MOD building was the promotion of the now Cadet Warrant Officer Serbuca. To be eligible for promotion to Cadet Warrant Officer a decision is made by Headquarters Air Cadets at RAF Cranwell involving a host of criteria, and the promotion is usually made by the Wing Commander, so this was certainly a treat!
The torch has now been handed over to Surrey Wing who will take it forward on it’s journey. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed having the torch with us here in London. Deputy Officer Commanding London Wing, Squadron Leader Raj Patel had this to say.
“I had a great few days. We visited 28 locations around London and I would like to thank everyone who helped us arrange our visits. We went to some very iconic venues and every one of them made us feel very welcome. We did lots of walking in the heat but as usual the cadets from London Wing were excellent and and helped make this event successful.”
The Wing finished up the tour of London at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where one generation met another. The torch was handled by the waiting Chelsea Pensioners, who posed for some photos before taking the cadets on a tour of the site and revealed some inside knowledge that usually stays on the inside.
We wish the remaining Wings the best of luck and hope you all have just as much fun as we’ve had!