Platinum Jubilee: RAF Air Cadets celebrate cross border friendships

In Omagh there was a double celebration as the local RAF Air Cadets were honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service as well as marking the Queen’s Jubilee.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 5th June 2022, 8:17 pm
Updated Sunday, 5th June 2022, 8:21 pm

The QAVS is the highest award given to local volunteer groups in the UK.

Squadron Leader Graham Dodds said it was a special occasion to present the award during the weekend’s celebrations. The event took place at St Lucia’s barracks, where dozens of people, including Irish veterans, gathered.

“It is a double event, it is primarily to present the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to the squadron in recognition of significant efforts it has made in working as community group, particularly in improving cross-community relations and across the border,” Mr Dodds said.

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Civilian instructor Sandy Wilson, based at the Omagh squadron attending the Queen's jubilee event in Omagh, on day four of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Picture date: Sunday June 5, 2022.

Civilian instructor Sandy Wilson, based at the Omagh squadron, said: “It’s been incredible to be a part of something so important. The cadets and staff have been doing so much work behind the scenes, we are very honoured to be awarded with the Queen’s Award.”

James Scanlon, chairman of the Connacht Ulster One (Oglaigh Naisiunta na hEireann) area, was at the event with Ollie O’Connor, former chief executive of One in Drogheda.

One provides accommodation for veterans who otherwise would be homeless, and has also established veterans’ support centres.

“We are delighted to come today and celebrate together,” Mr Scanlon said.

Mr O’Connor added: “There has been great friendships between the O’Neill branch in Cavan and the squadron in Omagh and it’s important for us to reciprocate that on their big day today. It means a lot to them to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and it’s important we are also there. It’s a great feeling of friendship between the organisations and it’s great to see the squadron being awarded the equivalent of the MBE.

“We feel that we are all on the one island, we all have to live together, so it’s better we live in friendship rather than shouting across at each other.”