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Cadet NASA Visit | Durham Freemasons

2505 (Bishop Auckland) Squadron consisting of 41 cadets and 7 volunteers staff was formed 59 years ago to provide a community-based squadron (then called the Air Training Corps) for young people across Southwest Durham.

The squadron is part of a UK-wide force of more than 30,000 young people aged between 12 and 20 years. Their aim is to promote and encourage a practical interest in aviation, providing training which is useful in service and civilian life while encouraging a spirit of adventure, leadership, and good citizenship.

Flt Lt Ian Pepper the Officer Commanding and Flt Sergeant Caroline Hodgson have come up with an inspirational educational idea for the squadron to learn about the application of (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s in space exploration. The training includes certified courses, guest speakers and external trips. This culminates when six cadets and three staff are to travel in October 2023 to the USA to continue exploring flight and space including a visit to NASA to partake in training as astronauts. On their return, they will share their experiences on the expedition with a presentation to the squadron and parents

Funds to pay for this fantastic opportunity have been raised by many means and the cadets with their parents backing have worked hard to reach their target, a huge achievement on its own

Durham Freemason and Chair of the squadron Royston Smart advised the squadron Officer Commanding, Ian to apply to the Freemasons of Durham for a Community Support Grant and this has resulted with a visit from freemason Stan Hunter joining Royston in presenting a well-earned certificate from the Benevolent Committee of the Durham Freemasons.  This accompanies a grant of £1,000 awarded and this resulted in a huge cheer from the squadron.

Stan and Royston were given a tour of the squadron’s operating Centre where Stan had a crash course on the in-house flight simulator (do not travel on his aircraft) after which refreshments were served, concluding on a remarkably interesting evening. A special patch has been designed by Cadet Cpl E Totty to mark the occasion, a sample of which was given to Stan as a memento.

Flt Lt Ian Pepper and the cadets are happy to visit the Benevolent Committee and give a presentation of their once in a lifetime experience.

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