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Monday, 30 April 2012

Inverness Pipes And Drums Camp 2012 Report

by Cdt Callum Carslaw

On Saturday 31st of March, I set off for Inverness on the train for the Pipes and Drums concentration.  After a 7 hour journey, and after being picked up from the station, I arrived at Cameron Barracks.  The camp was officially an Army cadet camp with air cadets being invited along as well and through what might have been a mistake, I was put in a room with Army cadets.  This was a little awkward throughout the week as I stood in my blues in the morning but it didn’t matter as the camp progressed. 
                When we arrived we were assessed by Pipe Majors to judge which group we would be put in for the week.  Not knowing the tunes and it being my first time placed me in Intermediate group 1 which contained around 10 to 15 pipers.
Sunday – an early start and an awkward start as I realised that even the air cadets were in greens.  After breakfast and a quick room tidy, we go to our lessons for the morning.  For the first half of the week the lessons were spent learning tunes and practicing exercises to improve fingering.  We were told quite quickly that, as the top intermediate group, we were expected to play in the massed bands at the end of the week.  This would require a lot of effort from all of us as nobody quite knew all of the given music.  In the afternoon, massed band practice was tiring and was pretty much constant playing for half an hour at a stretch.  I was very relieved at the end of the first practice as I had my reed replaced for a much harder one which meant it was much harder to blow.
Another early start on Monday – this time we were awoken to a reveille from an advanced group piper marching around the camp.  We had more lessons until lunch and massed band practice after.
For the rest of the week, until Thursday, and with the exception of Wednesday where we had the afternoon off, we spent lessons learning new music, sharing favourite tunes and practicing.  The aim of the week for most of the pupils was to gain a Pipes and Drums Qualifications Board award.  These awards are assessing maintenance of the pipes, playing technique and theory and I was awarded a Level 4 equivalent to a Scottish standard grade or a GCSE. 
On Wednesday Night we were very lucky to watch an impressive display from the instructors that had been helping out throughout the week.  It was a great inspiration to us and a great performance.
Thursday was the dress rehearsal.  We had been issued kilts, jackets and sporrans to wear and ribbons and bag covers for our pipes. However, the terrible weather (including hail and sleet) as well as the snow still on the ground from earlier in the week meant we were sitting inside longer than we were playing.  Eventually, we were sent inside into the DCCT range where the incredible noise saw them issue us all with earplugs.  We must have spent over an hour in there plus time outside practicing when the weather got better.  When the rehearsal was over, my lips were bursting and we all looked forward to an evening of relaxation.  On Thursday night, there was a talent show featuring beat boxing, dancing and music from the cadets as well.
Throughout Friday, there was a rehearsal in the morning, on pipes, and then in the afternoon we played at the parade in Dingwall which was well supported by the locals.  With a day of playing pipes, I was very tired.  We were parading on a narrow street with crowds either side so when we attempted to counter march with five ranks, there was not enough room.   For about ten seconds, no one was playing their pipes as we were all fighting and pulling our way through the shoulders of the people either side.  When the parade was over – the rest went without a hitch – we were welcomed into a hotel and offered scones, jam, crisps and un-diluted orange squash.  On Friday night was the Ceilidh – traditionally a dance but it was really just a concert.  There were performances from some of the battalions, from the advanced pipers, a solo and from two Pipe Majors and a drummer.  The Pipe majors were very good and there was a truly awesome drum solo.
Saturday was the last day and included two parades as well as another rehearsal in the morning. The first parade was the prize giving parade in the afternoon where prizes were presented by a Colonel of the Army Cadets for the most improved in each level and best overall piper and best overall drummer.   This involved playing through the whole performance again (for the second time of the day).  In the evening at seven o’ clock, we set off for Inverness Castle.   The parade went well and we all felt great to have completed the week and played in the massed bands.  We went to the town hall for drinks, food and speeches.
By the end of the week, I was tired from the constant piping and early starts but was proud to have played in the massed bands.  I am going to Edinburgh in May to play at Edinburgh Castle which I am really looking forward to and have been asked to play for the Queen at Balmoral. Unfortunately, I am on holiday so will have to wait another year to play there.  I can hardly wait for Inverness 2013.

See a video of the cadets in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEEKLJPwzMQ&feature=youtu.be

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ensemble play at Prestigious Event

The Ensemble Team from 1224 (Wharfedale) Sqn were invited to provide the music for the fourth Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course  Graduation Dinner held in the Officers Mess at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.  42 cadets from across all six regions graduated. After playing a variety of music throughout the evening, the Wharfedale Cadets were invited to the top table to meet the guests, these included Air Vice Marshal Mike Lloyd, Air Officer Commanding No 22 (Training) Group, Air Vice Marshal (Ret’d) Stu Butler, Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Barbara Cooper and North Region Commandant, Group Captain John Middleton.  It was a fantastic evening providing the Wharfedale cadets with an opportunity to play music to a very high standard and a setting which allowed for the feel of the music to come across.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Wharfedale Celebrate Triple Success

The annual presentation evening for Cadets and Staff at 1224 (Wharfedale) Sqn was another successful evening.  The reception was held at the Kings Hall in Ilkley.  Guests were greeted by Cdt Callum Carslaw on the Bag Pipes with the newest cadets on Squadron providing the Guard of Honour arranged by Cpl Karl Verspyck.  Guests were then escorted into the Winter Gardens before taking their seats in the Kings Hall. 
Each cadet was invited onto the stage to be presented with certificates and qualifications gained throughout the last year by Wing Commander Wiggins these included; Classifications, BTEC Aviation, Young Life Savers First Aid, Intermediate Swimming, Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver. Cadet Sergeant Ben Connor and Rhys Leighton were promoted to Flight Sergeant and Cadet Lisa Whitaker to Corporal. 
Following grace said by Cadet Warrant Officer Sam White, and after eating a good three course meal, the trophies were awarded by Guest of Honour Sir Colin Sampson.

For Sir Colin Sampson, former Chief Constable West Yorkshire Police, it was a change in uniform colour from the Police Service to the Royal Air Force. Together with his wife Lady Kathleen, he thoroughly enjoyed the evening.  Both Sir Colin and Lady Kathleen spent time with the staff and cadets and commented ‘how polite and smart the cadets were and how much he had enjoyed talking to them and discovering all the adventures they can take part in’. 
Cpl Callum Parker being presented with the Ian Clarke Memorial Trophy.

Sir Colin presented the awards to the following cadets;
Best new cadet: Cadet Ashleigh Smith
Best Intermediate: Corporal Callum Parker
Best Senior Cadet: Sergeant Jamie Partovi
Cadet of the Year:  Sergeant Chris Cavaliere
The Commanding Officers Cup was awarded to Cpl Jorgen Moore
Ian Clarke Memorial trophy for Community Service: Corporal Callum Parker
Attendance Trophy: Sergeant Chris Cavaliere
Royal Air Forces Association Salver:
Corporal Callum Parker
Sports Trophy: Corporal Lisa Whitaker
Bandsman of the Year: Flight Sergeant Tom Smith
White Rose Shooting Trophy: Cadet Ashleigh Smith
Best turned out NCO and Cadet: Corporal Kjersti Moore and Cadet Tom Hepworth

Following speeches, the band gave a concert standard performance combining traditional marches with ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and Tunes from ‘Titanic’  Percussion now has a junior and senior section - with the junior section performing a piece from the Air Cadet National Marching Drum Corps and the Seniors reaching new heights and basing their routine on the Royal Marines Drum Corps.  They were both excellent but the senior drummers were outstanding.  Cadet Carslaw showed how well he plays the pipes with a fantastic solo and then the whole band combined to play ‘How to Train Your Dragon’.  The evening finished with ‘Ilkla Moor Baht'At and ’Abide with Me’.  Most of the concert is available on the Squadron's YouTube Channel
Flight Lieutenant Sue Leighton "I am extremely proud of all the cadets.  Tonight is their night and it is a formal occasion for them to celebrate all their achievements.  It is also good to see so many families attending and supporting the cadets'.

A week later, cadets and staff underwent an Inspection by Group Captain Middleton, the Commandant of the North Region Air Training Corps. Wharfedale have been selected as the most Efficient Squadron in the Wing and are therefore representing Central and East Yorkshire in the Lees Trophy.  This is a National Competition to find the best Squadron in the Air Training Corps.

Having reviewed a formal parade of the Squadron, Group Captain Middleton made a tour of the unit where he got to see the cadets in action.  He saw cadets undergoing marching band practice, preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh Expedition, First Class training for our newest cadets, First Aid Demonstration and then joined the Aircraft Recognition Team and took part in a test (of course he obtained full marks).

In recognition of their commitment to the Squadron, the Senior Cadets were invited to join the Group Captain Middleton for a buffet. The evening concluded with a presentation to Group Captain Middleton, Mrs Angela St.John, Chair of the Civilian Committee and Cllr Heathcliffe Bowen, Chairman of Ilkley Parish Council by Corporal Lisa Whittaker and Cadet Jack Croft on the adventures of Wharfedale cadets in 2011.

Also present that evening were two ex-cadets, Tomos St.John who is now an Officer Cadet at Liverpool University Air Squadron and Leading Aircraftsman Alex Chambers who has just passed out of RAF Halton and was awarded 'Best Recruit'.

Flight Lieutenant Sue Leighton said "The cadets really enjoyed the visit.  Group Captain Middleton was very interactive with them and formally recognised the hard work by staff and cadets at the Squadron".  

 In the same week, Wharfedale were awarded a Gold Star for Health and Safety.  This is another significant achievement as the award scheme is only a year old and Wharfedale are first to achieve in the Central and East Yorkshire Wing.