In the hillsides and in the vales from Cowbridge to Aberystwyth, shouts of "Well done Officer Cadet Chris Lewis!" are re-sounding, loud and clear.
Staff and cadets of No3 Welsh Wing of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets are enthusiastically congratulating Chris Lewis, who has been selected for a Queen's commission in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training) branch after a successful board at RAF College Cranwell's Officer Aircrew Selection Centre in Lincolnshire.
Chris, a volunteer instructor with 2117 (Kenfig Hill) Squadron, is the first adult in the Wing to successfully complete the new selection procedures. These measures were introduced last year to bring the Air Cadet Organisation into line with those arrangements used by the parent organization, the Royal Air Force. Pilot Officer Rhys Thomas of 293 (Cowbridge) Squadron, who was the last officer in the Wing to be commissioned under the old arrangements said, "This is a first for No3 Welsh Wing, so now Chris can share his secrets on how it's done! Massive congratulations to Chris." Already other aspirants for a Queen's commission are queuing up to ask Chris to share his experiences and to give them the benefit of his wisdom.
Chris joined the Air Cadets as a fourteen year old with 275 (Nantyglo and Blaina) squadron. As an adult, on walking past the recruitment stand at the Swansea airshow in 2011, he remembered the fun he had had as a cadet. He asked for an application form to become an adult volunteer and he applied to join the staff of 2117 (Kenfig Hill) squadron.
Chris told your correspondent, "I was fortunate enough to be in a position with my full time employer to be able to attend every Squadron parade night. After a short time I was asked to become Health Safety and Environment Officer for the squadron. I had always enjoyed hiking and I joined the Basic Expedition Leadership course too. This course is designed to enable senior cadets and adult staff to achieve a nationally recognised qualification, and provides certification for leading cadets on day walks and expeditions."
His other duties on the squadron include such as matters as making visits to RAF stations, attending annual camp, and taking part in other exciting adventure training opportunities, and undertaking skills development in a number of areas.
Last year Chris was asked to consider a uniformed role, with the suggestion being that he should apply to become a commissioned officer. He was offered more roles in the squadron, and having successfully completed a number of training courses, he was selected to attend a board at the Officer Aircrew Selection Centre, which he did last December.
Having always being interested in the RAF, Chris is absolutely delighted and proud to be a representative of the Royal Air Force, the Air Cadets, No3 Welsh Wing and especially of 2117 (Kenfig Hill) Squadron. He hopes to be an inspiration for others looking for similar responsibilities and excitement.
The photograph shows Chris Lewis with some of the cadets from 2117 (Kenfig Hill) Squadron, Royal Air Force Air Cadets.
The Royal Air Force Air Cadet Organisation is a national organisation for young people aged between 13 and 20 years. It was established in February 1941 and there are nearly 1,000 squadrons divided into 36 wings, which then split into six regions. No3 Welsh Wing is just one of six Wings in the Wales and West Region. There are six Regions in the organisation as a whole.
Whilst the Wales and West Regional Headquarters are located at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, the Headquarters of No 3 Welsh Wing is located at The Grange TA Centre in West Cross, Swansea.
Our mission is "To be a modern, dynamic' sustainable organisation of choice for young people, offering fun and challenging opportunities."