Cadets of No 24 Ashburton Squadron, Air Training Corps, earned a total of more than 900 NZQA national unit standards this year, bolstered by online training due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Cadets started online training in late March and stayed connected through online platforms during lockdown and until Canterbury reached Alert Level 1.
No 24 squadron leader Lisa Sutton said 2020 had been interesting “to say the leastBut due to the dedicated team in the unit, a record 16 cadets had earned National Certification in Cadet Forces (Foundation Skills) Level 2, and others accreditations in level 1 and level 3.
“These young individuals … have shown us what they are capable of. They have pushed their limits, sacrifices their leisure time, and kept each other going. They are more than just a team.”
The unit has 28 enrolled cadets and has been operating for the past 78 years in Ashburton. They had their final parade for the year last week at their base at Ashburton airport.
Among the invited guests, alongside family and friends, was New Zealand Cadet Force commandant Andrew Law who inspected the cadets and then presented trophies and awards.
He also addressed those gathered, which included chief petty officer and Southern Area co-ordinator Gerald Foote, Air Force liaison officer and retired cadet force squadron leader Bill Paterson, flight lieutenant Tom Wech of 17 Squadron (Christchurch), Ashburton Cadet Unit unit commander major Cezarne Rodgers, Mid Canterbury area support officer major Andrew Kenny, as well as Ashburton mayor Neil Brown and councillors Lynette Lovett, Angus McKay and Diane Rawlinson and Ashburton RSA president Merv Brenton.
Highly impressed with the unit’s academic achievement over the past year, Commander Law encouraged them to look ahead in their journey but also take time to turn around and see obstacles and hurdles overcome along the way. It would serve as a reminder of their growth.
It had certainly been a year like no other, he said.
It started with a “hiss and a roar” and Commander Law had great plans to build on momentum of early 2020.
Covid-19 disrupted his personal travel plans and taught the nation new words like covid, pandemic, unprecedented, lockdown, MIQs, stay safe and be kind.
“The impact of those words cannot be underestimated,” he said.
The New Zealand Cadet Force has a 156-year history teaching leadership, communication, organisation, discipline, confidence, citizenship, and teamwork.
Covid-19 saw a need to draw on resilience, strength and adaptability.
“I’m proud of the resilience, strength and adaptability shown by the unit’s engagement to keep the unit alive,” he said. “Their efforts and commitment have not gone unnoticed.”
He hoped 2021’s hurdles would not be so big: “After the storm, the rainbow appears.”