Torch relay comes to town to mark air cadets anniversary

The 1140 Steyning squadron will be taking part in the torch relay
The 1140 Steyning squadron will be taking part in the torch relay

If you see a torch being carried through Shoreham tomorrow, it isn’t the Olympic flame taking a very late diversion.

It’s to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Air Training Corps, an institution that has been inspiring pilots of the future for decades.

The 1440 Shoreham squadron will be taking part in the torch relay

The 1440 Shoreham squadron will be taking part in the torch relay

To mark the anniversary, squadrons from Shoreham and Steyning will join others across the county in the national torch relay.

After being run across the Adur Ferry Bridge, the torch will arrive at the Coronation Green in Shoreham at just after 2.30pm on Friday before going on to the Steyne Gardens war memorial in Worthing.

At the relay, the cadets from the Shoreham, Steyning and Hove squadrons will be doing a demonstration of some of the skills they have learnt.

This will include first aid training, a full band practice and field craft exercises with camoflauge netting on display.

Lionel Barnard, the vice-chairman of West Sussex County Council, will officiate the Shoreham leg of the relay.

Flight Lieutenant Rich Sage is the officer commanding for the 1440 Shoreham squadron.

One of several volunteers that train the cadets, which range in age from 12 to 20, Rich builds websites and mobile applications for a living.

After his own experience as a cadet, Rich wanted to pay something back to the organisation so he became a staff member.

He said: “We’ve got police officers and bus drivers, a whole host of people who come together to give young people their experience.

“It’s rewarding, absolutely. We have cadets from every background you can think of – some with a perfect home life and others that have the complete opposite of that.

“Seeing them come together and take on responsibilities, I love it. That is the real reason I do it.”

He added that some of the cadets go on to join the RAF, while for others it prepares them for civilian life.

The Shoreham squadron began in 1941, the year the Air Training Corps was founded. Today it has 32 cadets.

The Steyning squadron was originally a unit in the Shoreham squadron. It now has 27 members.

Nationally there are 50,000 air cadets and the all-time high was 200,000 in 1942, Rich said.

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