Reserve Forces and Cadets Association
for North of England

A group of Air Cadets and their adult volunteers are flying on cloud nine having been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

2344 (Longbenton) Squadron is one of the biggest squadrons in the North-East, with a catalogue of achievements and successes, including being the top performing Air Cadet unit in the UK. Its Cadet Force Adult Volunteers challenge its young people to achieve in flying gliding, adventure training, sports, leadership exercises and much more.

The squadron has served the community since 1956 and in 2008 it came close to closure. Since then, the adult volunteers have led an inspiring transition from an initially lacklustre unit to a thriving and vibrant detachment that has provided, and continues to provide, previously undreamed of opportunities for hundreds of youngsters from the local area, and supported them to achieve over 1000 internationally recognised qualifications.

The squadron was recognised for the impressive way it supports and works with the community and the young people from within it and has done so for a sustained period of time. 

It is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations have increased year on year since the award was introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

HM Lord Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan Winfield OBE, commented; “I am delighted that 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2020, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. 

“The squadron is a wonderful asset to the community in Longbenton and is seen as a shining beacon of opportunity for young people who are encouraged to raise their ambitions, develop life skills and succeed.

“My warmest congratulations to all those who have played a part in achieving this honour.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea, a group working with refugees and vulnerable people in Stirling and a thriving community arts centre in County Down. 

Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson, said, “This award and the recognition it brings is an incredible appreciation of the huge amount of voluntary work invested in to the squadron by members past and present.

“Our cadets, adult volunteers and array of partners all regularly go above and beyond the call of duty to provide the highest standard of training and widest range of activities for all.

“Thank you to you all, to everyone who has supported us and continues to do so.”

The Longbenton Squadron will receive the award later this summer.


Runners-up - Longbenton Air Cadets with Air Vice Marshal Andrew Roberts CB, CBE (1)

Lord Lieutenant Tyne and Wear celebrates with 2344