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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


NEWS

LOCAL AIR CADET SQUADRON 72 (OMAGH) TO RECEIVE QUEEN'S VOLUNTARY SERVICE AWARD

08 June 2021

HIGHTEST VOLUNTARY ACCOLADE FOR 72 (OMAGH) SQUADRON RAF AIR CADETS, AWARDED QUEEN’S AWARD FOR VOLUNTARY SERVICE 

72 (Omagh) Squadron RAF Air Cadets, a group of volunteers based at St Lucia Barracks, Omagh and covering the Omagh and Fermanagh District, have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.  
It is considered as ‘The MBE for Volunteer Groups’. 
The Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) is a volunteer-military youth organisation sponsored by the Royal Air Force and nationally has more than 40,000 members aged between 12 and 20 years. 72 Squadron currently has 6 adult volunteer Staff and 20 Cadets 
It gives young people hands-on experience of activities and courses that challenge and develop skills to help them succeed in whatever they want to do.  
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is the Honorary Air Commandant of RAFAC. 
Omagh Squadron aims are to Promote and encourage a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force among young people, Provide training which will be useful in the Services and civilian life and Encourage the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship. 
In recent years, the Squadron’s achievements have included receiving the ‘Bader Trophy’ for raising the most funds for RAF veterans of any RAFAC Unit in the UK, developing a close partnership with Óglaigh Náisiúnta Na hÉireann (Irish Ex Services Association), supporting the peace building work of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Ireland, winning the ‘Cyber Centurion’ Trophy for developing youth cyber skills and raising vital funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund. 
Despite the pressures of the Covid Pandemic, the Squadron Staff adapted their plans and provided virtual training, as well as personal outreach to its members.  
 
This year HM Government are giving a special designation to QAVS awardees that provided impactful support to the community in response to the pandemic last year - either by managing a significant increase in their usual work or providing extra support in other ways.  Omagh & Fermanagh RAFAC will also receive this unique designation. 
 
It will receive a slightly modified crystal with the words 'with special recognition - Covid 19' included in the engraving.  There will also be a special badge given to the volunteers involved in providing extra support related to the pandemic.   
 
A spokesperson for HM Government commented : 
 
“The response of volunteers to the pandemic last year was truly outstanding and we are so pleased to be able to recognise it as part of the QAVS process”  
 
72 (Omagh) Squadron is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.  
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.  
Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children’s bereavement charity in London; a support group those living with dementia and their carers in North Yorkshire; a volunteer minibus service in Cumbria; a group supporting young people in Belfast; a community radio station in Inverness and a mountain rescue team in Powys.  
Representatives of 72 (Omagh) Squadron will receive the award crystal and certificate from Mr Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone later this summer.  
Furthermore two volunteers from 72 (Omagh) Squadron will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 along with other recipients of this year’s Award.  
 Flying Officer Conchubhar McHugh, Officer Commanding 72 Squadron welcomed the prestigious award commenting  
“I am delighted that the voluntary and community work of 72 Squadron has been recognised at the highest national level by this fantastic award from HM The Queen. 
I pay tribute to the  hard work and commitment of my predecessor as Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Graham Dodds, who worked tirelessly over many years to successfully develop the Squadron and specifically to reach out to all sections of the community 
 My thanks also go to the staff and cadets who have dedicated themselves to the Squadron and whose loyalty to it has made it a central part of the local community, as well as a leading force in voluntary organisations. 
We are honoured and humbled to be the first RAFAC unit in Scotland and Northern Ireland Region to receive this award from HM The Queen and proud that our unit is receiving recognition on the national level for Fermanagh and Omagh District” 
Flight Lieutenant Graham Dodds, Regional Media Communications Officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland Region, who was the former Officer Commanding for the Squadron, also welcomed this unique award stating : 
“I am delighted that Omagh Squadron’s focus and passion for improving the local community, as well as local and cross-border relations, has been recognised and rewarded by this exceptional honour. 
 My personal thanks go to Flying Officer Conchubhar McHugh and Pilot Officer Kathy McHugh for the vast amounts of time and effort they have put into making the Squadron the success it is and in making this award possible. 
 Our Cadets have worked hard to support all our activities and should be proud of what they have done to merit the award of the QAVS to the Squadron”