Cadets to appear in RAF 100 years anniversary film

RAF cadet sergeants Ella-May Hansford and Allesandra Hinton Shereston listen to Second World War veteran Harry Parkins. Image supplied.
RAF cadet sergeants Ella-May Hansford and Allesandra Hinton Shereston listen to Second World War veteran Harry Parkins. Image supplied.

Two young RAF cadets from Sleaford are to appear in a media campaign celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force.

Cadet Sergeants Ella-May Hansford and Allesandra Hinton Shereston, both 16, from 2160 (Sleaford) Sqn, were selected at short notice to appear in the national RAF film.

The pair visited RAF Cranwell to film the segment under the heading ‘to Inspire’ and spoke with inspirational Second World War aircrew veteran Mr Harry Parkins.

As an air engineer in Bomber Command, the young warrant officer Parkins talked to the cadet sergeants about his memories of the war.

Harry completed 39 operational sorties and took part in the longest mission completed by a Lancaster during the war.

Ella-May and Alessandra were able to see his extensive collection of photographs from that time and were said to be ‘completely wrapped-up’ in his story.

After filming, Harry was invited to sign the memorial wall at the end of the classroom at RAF Cranwell. Despite being 93, Harry managed to climb the step ladder to reach the upper levels of the wall.

Sgt Hansford said: “I was apprehensive when we were asked if we would like to take part in the filming, it did seem quite a challenge. It was a great honour to meet Mr Parkins and listen to his story and to be able to ask him questions about his experiences.”

Sgt Hinton-Sheriston said: “Mr Parkins is such an amazing man with such an inspiring story to tell. I’ve read history from the time and seen documentaries on TV but it has never felt so real as when you talk to someone like Harry who was there.

“When it came to my turn in front of the camera I took inspiration from what he said and was proud to stand there in the blue uniform of the RAF and say what this year of commemoration means to me.”

For the next stage of the filming the cadets had to stand in the cold at the entrance to one of the hangers and answer questions put to them.

“Having only been handed the very briefest of script cues shortly before the filming, both cadets displayed remarkable confidence in front of the camera,” said wing commander Hullott.

“They had questions fired at them which required them to display a high level of mental agility, a test they passed with the minimum of retakes being required.”