Hove History – 176 Squadron (Hove) Air Training Corps.
Winners of the Sir Alan Lees Trophy 1976.
Thank you to former Cadet John Preddy, who has kindly given us a valuable insight into his time served as an Air Cadet at 176 Hove Squadron Air Training Corps. During this time, the Squadron were proud winners of the coveted Sir Alan Lee’s Trophy.
The Sir Alan Lee’s Trophy is the highest recognition of achievement for an ATC Squadron. Awarded annually to the Squadron, judged by the Air Commodore, Currently Air Commodore Dawn Mc Cafferty, to be the top unit.
“I actually joined the Junior Air Corps. Around 13 I seem to remember. I graduated in to 176 Hove ATC when I could, and the photo of me was taken just after we won the Sir Alan Lees Trophy when I was 14.
It was a really big deal. I remember the civic reception at Hove Town Hall. It included a buffet – which I and Stephen Hale enjoyed immensely! We moved up to the ATC from JAC together.
Looking back both CO Frank Le Duc and Warrant Officer Bill Kelly were tough but fair. I was at Knoll School and Jack Mutton, Deputy Head was pleased Steve and I were part of the ATC. He believed in the value of discipline, like Frank and Bill, that being part of the ATC gave us. Another cadet, John Stephenson, also enjoyed being part of the ATC. We all went together. It was a great time and we were all good friends.
There really were fantastic activities that I was proud to be part of. Staying with the Rock Apes – RAF Regiment – at RAF Odiham where I fired my first pistol. The camping trips I recall – there were many I enjoyed – but the crowning glory must have have being doing a loop the loop in an RAF Chipmunk Trainer Mark ll.
I didn’t get my wings in the ATC. I can’t remember why. But it did instil in me that I would learn to fly. I passed my PPL at Shoreham in 1991.
The time that I had in the ATC for nearly 2 years was terrific. I got my silver Duke of Edinburgh Award but Gold was a step too far. I regret that to this day. The reason I had to leave was because I was offered a part time job as a hall porter at a seafront hotel after school and, coming from a poor family, I felt my earnings would come in useful.
I always feel that we shouldn’t wait for other people to make special things happen. We have to create our own special memories. With the encouragement of all the ATC officers we certainly did that.
The funny thing is that at the time I never realised how important to me, the 176 ATC was. Frank, Bill, Steve, John and many others were central figures in my formative youth. I’m pleased I have those memories today. The experience served me well, and if my son was in Hove – home is Malta and France now – I would encourage him to join you. I am sure with your determination very soon the Lees will be back 176. Please let me know when your squadron wins it!”
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