South West Region

Around Bristol and Gloucestershire with the Torch

from an article by Squadron Leader Maurice Thompson, Media Communications Officer, Bristol & Gloucestershire Wing on the wing web page.   The national Air Cadet 75th Anniversary Torch was handed by Dorset Wiltshire Wing to alumni Mr Tony Eve, a retired ACO officer, and Cadet Dimond of 1446 Cleveden Squadron at Hullavington, the home of 621 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS). Unfavourable weather prevented flying the Torch to No 3 Air Experience Fight (AEF) at Colerne so minibus plan “B” took it via 3 AEF to the Jet Age Museum at Gloucester Airport and then around all 29 units in the wing. Five members of the wing, including Officer Commanding Wing Commander David Cox , spent 24 hours together over night on a tight schedule, not without its incidents. Look out for the paperback, not sure what to call it yet, perhaps “5 men in a minibus” “5 go insane” or “The Infamous Five”, fortunately it didn’t turn out to be a "Murder Mystery". The journey came to fruition after months of planning. The mood was fantastic on arrival as units turned out at all hours to support the quest and greet the Torch enthusiastically in many different ways, including a cake and street party, to cement the importance of and celebrate this memorable, jovial and positive occasion that cadets, staff, alumni, committee and parents will remember. bgw2-abovegroup-2152amauricetaug16 ac75torchbgw2322dowty 1245-sqn-300x198 SS Great Britain was particularly helpful the following morning, offering their time and staff the mark the occasion when the Torch was strapped to a cadet in a special holster to climb to the top of the rigging. Photographs were taken on the ship with Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Chris Davies, Deputy Lieutenant for Bristol Richard Pendlebury and even an “Isenbard Kindom Brunel” attended. Canoes moored alongside SS Great Britain took the next part of the journey. Flying Officer Alec Small of 2146 South East Bristol Squadron, having met the Torch at the squadron at 04:00 that morning, escorted by cadet canoeists and the party leader Flight Lieutenant Martin Neate of 2124 Bristol Airport Squadron carried the Torch through the docks to the Sea Cadet HQ at TS Adventure. Here is the Torch was given to the Wing Nijmegen Team to road march to the foot of the Avon Gorge from where it climbed with cadets and staff supervised by Wing Adventure Training Officer Squadron Leader David Morgan. bgw3-canoesfoalecsmartmauricetaug16 At the top of the Gorge the Wing Drill & Ceremonial Flight marched the Torch to the Clifton Suspension Bridge where a large crowd had gathered to take part in and watch the event. Television, press, and radio were jockeying for position in order to get the best coverage. Banners from 30 units in Bristol Gloucestershire and Devon Somerset Wings lined the bridge at intervals to receive the Torch.   bgw7-greatbritainmastmauricetaug16Guests included the Ambassador to the Air Cadets Honorary Group Captain Carol Vorderman, Squadron Leader (Retired) “Johnny” Johnson, The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Jeff Lovell and the Lady Mayoress of Bristol Mrs Bridget Lovell. The party was led across to the south side of the bridge by the Drill & Ceremonial Flight where the Torch was handed by alumni Flight Lieutenant (Retired) Doug Crew and Cadet Daniel Moss of 2152 North Bristol Squadron to our Ambassador who, after a few words, passed it to a cadet receiving it for Devon Somerset Wing. bgw5a-mediaattentionmauricetaug16 ac75torchbgwbridge2aajsmart26aug16 It was a fitting end to this part of the Torch journey, representing both serving members and those who have been before us and built the organisation that we have inherited. We are so fortunate that our forefathers entered the Air Training Corps with such passion. It is our duty to honour them with our enthusiasm and dedication so that in 25 years we will have continued in the same tradition. ENDS

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