Being part of the cadets at work has given me some brilliant experiences and I absolutely love. I often feel like I’m just a big kid really, soaking in all the experiences and seeing some amazing things, some of which I’m not even allowed to talk about. When I went to Cyprus last year it was twenty nine years since I had last been and had those experiences. I went to Akrotiri in 1988. I went one better with a recent trip!
In 1986 October time just after I had been to my first annual camp at RAF Coltishall my squadron went to Crowborough Training Camp for a week of activities. I have a few distinct memories of being there. One evening we watched a scary movie, I think it was Alien, and we had to do this in the girls’ block as that was where the TV and VCR were. When we left it was foggy and we all ran down the hill to our billet as fast as we could.
I knew that one day we were meant to be going rock climbing and abseiling at High Rocks but it was raining and instead we went to watch Top Gun in the cinema at Brighton. We were full of that film for the rest of the week.
A memory that came back to me after looking around one of the billets this past weekend was that we had a music box near the door where the power was and we played the Top gun soundtrack a lot along with “In The Army Now” by Status Quo and also “The Final Countdown” by Europe. I loved these songs at the time and I loved the feeling of belonging and having a good time together. I can still remember my team from that Crowborough camp; Nick Filler was I/C, Charles Randall, Vanessa Payne, Gummy and me.
This recent visit and my first time back to Crowborough comes thirty two years later. I’m back at this place with a bunch of new recruits who are learning the skills to be good leaders and enjoying that feeling of being part of something larger than themselves. I hope they enjoy it and get as much from it as I did.
I’m not always sure that I appreciated every moment while I was a cadet but i do look back with such fondness. So much so that I’ll be heading back to my old squadron for a meal next year to celebrate thirty five years since 309 was given squadron status.