Fond farewell to commander Mel from air cadets

CWO Millie Osborne presents a gift from the Sleaford ATC squadron to Flt Lt Mel Walker on her leaving. EMN-150304-104334001
CWO Millie Osborne presents a gift from the Sleaford ATC squadron to Flt Lt Mel Walker on her leaving. EMN-150304-104334001

It was an emotional moment for Flight Lieutenant Mel Walker when she passed on the role of Commanding Officer of Sleaford’s Air Cadet Squadron after six years.

Fl Lt Walker has been promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader as a Staff Officer at Trent Wing of the Air Training Corps based at RAF Digby. Her new job at Wing headquarters will see her responsible for provision of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to the 31 units within Trent Wing. She will also be responsible for all Field Craft training.

She joined Sleaford Squadron as a Civilian Instructor in 2005. She was commissioned into the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) in 2007 and was appointed Commanding Officer in March 2009 following the retirement of Flt Lt Phil Shelbourn.

She then had to manage the squadron’s move to a new, purpose-built extension to the nearby Army Cadet building in The Drove. Within a year the cadet strength had more than doubled. Official recognition followed when in 2011 the squadron was awarded the Sir Arthur Marshall Trophy marking it out as the most improved Squadron in the Air Training Corps. The following year they became the top Squadron out of the nearly 1,000 units by winning the Sir Alan Lee’s Trophy, finishing in the top six the following year.

On her last evening 23 former cadets paid a surprise visit to wish her well. A video of farewell messages was one of many gifts which included a cut glass vase with the squadron crest, a framed photograph of the 2012 Lees Trophy squadron and a spa day.

Flt Lt Walker said: “It has been a great honour to be a part of such a wonderful family and a privilege to be Commanding Officer for the last six years. I hope I have ‘delivered’ during this time and assisted many young people to realise their dream.”

Flight Lieutenant Paul Blackman is her successor at 2160 Sleaford Squadron ATC.