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134 (Bedford) Squadron
Air Training Corps
24th Mar 2014
Cadet Flight Sergeant Luke Denham and Flying Officer Lyndsay McGregor had the trip of a lifetime travelling 4149 miles to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Luke was one of 12 cadets selected to represent Bedfordshire and Cambrigeshire Wing, with tough competition from applicants from 29 other units.
After a 9 hour flight on the Royal Air Force’s new Voyager Aircraft, the group touched down at Wide Awake Airfield and given a series of station briefs, providing an insight into the history, development and current role of the base.
The week had a full, varied and challenging programme with many of the activities focusing on Adventure Training and trekking around the Island. Cadets put their navigation and teamwork skills to the test on the Island’s ‘Letterbox walks’, trying to find the hidden 22 letter boxes scattered over the Island. The 30 degrees heat and varied terrain made the walk even more challenging.
Cadets were able to assist in Island conservation projects. The tallest peak on the Island, Green mountain boasts a rainforest like environment and armed with machetes, cadets assisted in path clearing along the over grown tracks. In total, over 200metres of tracks were cleared and this provided invaluable help to the conservation team.
As a reward for the path clearing efforts, the cadets were treated to a private Turtle tour. Under the cover of darkness, the cadets were taken onto the beach to witness the Green Turtles lay their eggs. Getting up close on personal with the Turtles, cadets helped the conservation team take measurements of the turtles, who travelled from Brazil to Ascension to lay their eggs.
With very little ambient light on the island, the cadets spent an evening on Comfortless Cove beach, stargazing and picking out constellations unique to the southern hemisphere. Comferless Cove is also home to the The Bonetta Cemetary. Cadets were educated on the gruesome history of the cemetery and how during the 1830s it was the place of quarantine for yellow fever victims travelling on the ships from the West Coast of Africa. Cadets were quick to return to the safety of the beach for more stargazing
An unexpected treat during the week was the arrival of the Commonwealth Baton to the island. Staff from the Federation team took the time to explain to the cadets the history and design of the Baton. By the time it had reached Ascension it had travelled to 39 commonwealth counties on day 140 of its travels.
FS Luke Denham commented "I still cannot comprehend my selection for the Ascension Island Expedition 2014. Travelling to the island with the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing has been by far the best and most unique experience of my life. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, I met a bunch of fantastic people whom I remain friends with and I have had the most incredible experiences. My greatest memories of the trip are ascending Lady Hill with the expedition group from which I could see the entire island and holding the common wealth torch as part of its visit to all the countries in the commonwealth. It was a trip of a lifetime and it is one I shall never forget"