Saddleworth Air Cadets appeal for community help after closure notice

SADDLEWORTH Air Cadets unit is rallying support to save itself from extinction.

 

The Air Cadets received a cheque from chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, Nikki Kirkham

The 22-strong Uppermil-based group will close on Tuesday, July 31 as part of a national cost-cutting exercise.

After that youngsters can transfer to units in Lees and Ashton or end their fledgling links with the armed services.

But the cadets of 2200DF, who meet at Saddleworth School, are not going down without a fight.

They are appealing for sponsorship or donations from the community to cover the annual running costs of around £10,000.

David Archibald, Greater Manchester wing commander, dropped the bombshell news to organisers and parents on May 2.

He claimed the unit, which has enjoyed a 20 per-cent increase in numbers over the past year, wasn’t financially viable.

A lack of volunteers is also stated as a reason for the impending closure.

The Independent tried several times to contact wing commander Archibald but he hadn’t responded to calls at the time of going to press.

Cadets organisers are meeting with a North Area group captain later this month to plead their case for a stay execution.

“It is difficult for us because I am not sure what else we can do,” said Alison Clowes, a civilian instructor and 2200DF unit treasurer.

“We understand there is a need to save money because the public pot gets smaller and smaller,” she added.
“Units are being cut not just in Greater Manchester but throughout the country.

“However, some units have been saved.

“Ours started back up 12 years ago because it was deemed necessary children from Saddleworth weren’t going to other units.

“Why it isn’t now when there is even less to do is beyond us.

“We are trying everything we can to twist people’s arms.

“We know Saddleworth School don’t want to lose us.

“A few cadets might move to Ashton or Lees but none of them really want to do that.

“Besides, it is not feasible because a lot of the cadets live at the more rural ends of Saddleworth.

“Also it’s even harder to get into Ashton now with the train timetable changes.

“Twelve months ago we had seven cadets and I was on my own. Now we have 22 cadets and two staff.

“It doesn’t seem fair when the youngsters do such a lot for the community and get such good press.

“Against that you see reports of other teenagers on Churchill Playing Fields, at Dovestone and on King George Playing Fields just generally being a nuisance.

“Yes, the unit has had its ups and downs but we are on a very good up at the minute.”

On a positive note, the unit recently received a cheque for £500 from Cllr Nicola Kirkham following fundraising during her year as Chair of Saddleworth Parish Council.

Cllr Kirkham said: “When I learned of the closure, I said I still support them 100 per-cent.

“I still wanted them to have the money because I know the mums and dads were trying to raise money for them to go indoor sky diving so I said the money can go towards that.”

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