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Local awards for cadets as numbers at Squadron grow from eight to 91 after Covid

A popular squadron that struggled with dwindling numbers during covid is now flourishing again, with two cadets also winning regional awards as it bounces back in style. 

Numbers at 308 (City of Colchester) Sqn had dropped to as low as eight cadets in August 2021 when Flight Lieutenant Elly Shipley RAFAC took command during the pandemic.  

After plenty of hard work – and a focus on improving cadet training at the squadron and ensuring all cadets have access to the same opportunities - they are now parading 91 cadets with a growing waiting list for Spring 2023. 

Corporal Urbantas and Corporal Morrisson also received Jack Petchey Awards, which recognise outstanding young people aged 11-25 across London and Essex with a £300 grant for each winner. They were nominated by other cadets on their Squadron. 

Corporal Morrisson

“It is fantastic to see the cadets are developing and schemes such as the Jack Petchey Award allows the cadets to recognise the successes of their peers,” said Officer Commanding Shipley, who spent seven years as a cadet herself and had been a CWO and Lord Lieutenant's Cadet for Essex Wing.  

“The donations from the scheme will support our training plans to ensure the cadets get access to all the resources required to progress and develop. 

“After covid, the squadron is growing and flourishing again, which shows our programme of activities and development opportunities are being recognised by other young people within Colchester.” 

Corporal Morrisson described receiving the award as an amazing achievement, especially as they were chosen by other cadets. 

“It makes me feel like I’m progressing really well,” Corporal Morrisson. 

“I feel extremely lucky to have been chosen to receive the award. Cpl Urbantas and myself had felt that the flight simulators needed an upgrade and felt it would benefit the Squadron with this new type of technology, also allowing cadets to have better quality in their flight simulators.  

“This is such an amazing achievement to receive, and I feel so lucky to have been one of the first people to receive one from 308 Squadron.” 

Corporal Urbantas

OC Shipley, who used to be involved in the National Marching and Concerts bands,  added: “The cadets now have an extremely structured programme and are constantly gaining additional awards and qualifications.  

“In 2022, we were chosen to represent Essex Wing for the Lees trophy competition and were thrilled when we found out we came 2nd place for L&SE Region.” 

308 (City of Colchester) Sqn is based on Lower Circular Road East, overlooking Abbey Fields, and meet on a Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7pm until 9pm. 

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