After an impressive 20-year stint in charge of the region’s Air Cadets, Wing Commander Dave Harris has handed over the reins of Durham / Northumberland Wing.
Made up of 1,100 Air Cadets and 400 volunteers, the Wing covers 35 Air Training Corps (ATC) Squadrons across the North East. With sponsorship from the Royal Air Force, they develop young people and teach them the skills they’ll need both in the RAF and in civilian life, giving them hands-on skills and experiences, and helping them achieve nationally-recognised qualifications.
Dave Harris was no stranger to the Air Cadets when he took charge of the Wing in 2001. He had already successfully led 111 (Sunderland) Squadron to the Sir Alan Lees Trophy in 1994, awarded to the unit judged to be the best ATC Squadron in the UK. He went on to become the Wing’s Shooting Officer where he taught cadets a new and important skill, raised standards and led them to Bisley, competing against the other Cadet Forces in nationwide competitions.
On taking command of the Wing at age 41, he became the most senior RAF Air Cadets volunteer in the North East and worked with people all over the region and nationally to secure the best opportunities for his cadets and staff. Thousands of cadets have passed through the Wing since then, many going on to successful careers in the military, aviation and other varied fields.
Following an unusually long and successful stint as the head of the Wing, he will formally take up a new post from 1 March. Group Captain Mark Leeming, RAF Officer in charge of cadets in the North of England said:
“Wing Commander Harris has had an outstanding tenure as the Commanding Officer and under his inspirational leadership, the Wing has won many accolades and plaudits, including, on multiple occasions, the best Squadron nationally, and the Sir Roger Austin Sword for the best performance in the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, to name but a few.”
Dave also boosted the number of opportunities to cadets throughout his period of service, including finding new ways to pay costs for them to visit overseas RAF stations – something which had previously been open only to those who could afford it. He also instituted new management structures in the Wing, which have since been adopted nationwide.
Group Captain Leeming continued:
“He leaves a lasting legacy and has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets.”
Now after 45 years with the ATC, Dave leaves his current role to become the Senior Staff Officer for the organisation in the North of England.
On stepping down from command Dave Harris said:
“It’s been an honour and privilege to lead the Wing and after 20 years I’m delighted to leave it in a strong position before I hand over to my successor, Wing Commander David Middleton. The Wing’s success is in no small part down to the hard work of the 400 adult volunteers who help to run the local Squadrons two nights a week and during training weekends throughout the year.”