Chairman hosts reception in honour of RAF Cadets 72 Squadron

5th February 2019

On Thursday 24 January, Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Howard Thornton, hosted a reception at Enniskillen Castle Museum in honour of the 72 RAF Cadet Squadron.

Speaking at the reception, Councillor Thornton said, ‘As Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council I am delighted to welcome you all to the Enniskillen Museum this evening.  I would like to extend a particularly warm to the officers and cadets of 72 RAF Cadet Squadron based in Omagh in whose honour this evening’s event is being hosted. I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to Wing Commander Chris Hodges, Officer Commanding Northern Ireland Air Cadets who has joined us for this evening’s reception.

I am delighted to have been afforded the opportunity to host this reception and I think it is highly appropriate in the year that the RAF celebrated its centenary that the Council is able to honour you this evening.

Although your base is at the historic St Lucia Barrack’s in Omagh, I understand that you draw your membership from across the entire Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area and indeed into Donegal.

While established in 1995, it wasn’t until 2000 that you achieved full squadron status. In the intervening years the squadron has had a tremendous impact not only on its members but also in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area working with charitable organisations such as Omagh Food bank, Grove Hill Animal Shelter, St Vincent De Paul and Salvation Army and assisting with various charity collections.

I always like to do a little research on my guests to familiarise myself with what they do and I was amazed to see the activities which you as cadets undertake such as flying adventure training, shooting and camps to name but a few.

Looking at the list of famous RAF Cadets, sportsmen such as Danny Blanchflower, Rory Underwood, Linford Christie and John Conteh together with actors Richard Burton and Timothy Dalton who I suppose would be better known to those of my generation and Tom Fletcher from pop band “McFly” have all served as RAF Cadets. So many of your colleagues across the UK have made significant contributions to sport, the Arts and science.

2018 was a fantastic year for 72 Squadron winning the top 3 fundraising awards in the UK RAF Association competition beating over 900 squadrons across the UK. Your fundraising goes towards supports serving and retired RAF personnel and I am confident that they greatly appreciate your efforts on their behalf.

72 Squadron Cadets also provide support to the Lord Lieutenants of both Fermanagh and Tyrone and provide a presence at commemoration events across the district. You provided support for some of the RAF Centenary Celebrations last year also so you undertake significant ceremonial and civic duties also.

We also had cadet Ciara McHugh at our young achievers award last year as Ciara was one of only 6 recipients in the UK of RAFA Flying Scholarship Award and was also awarded the RAF Air Cadets Trophy for the Best Cadet in Northern Ireland.

Of course the squadron could not function without the dedication and commitment of the volunteer staff, both commissioned and non-commissioned officers under the command of Flying Officer Graham Dodds, who give up their time freely to support your activities and on behalf of you, the Cadets, can I offer my deepest gratitude to the staff.

Flying Officer Dodds was also recognised last year when he was awarded both the  prestigious ‘Currie Sword’ for the Best Commissioned Officer in Scotland & Northern Ireland Region and the Northern Ireland Air Cadets Best Commissioned Officer award.

72 Squadron has so much to be proud of and as I alluded to earlier, I am delighted to have the opportunity to host this reception to recognise the tremendous work which you do. It just remains for me to thank you most sincerely for all you do and wish the members and officer of 72 Squadron every success for the future.’.