Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan has officially opened the new building that will house No 415 (Merthyr Tydfil) Squadron Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Cadets.

Last night, Dame Kate Thomas DCVO attended a special ceremony, where the squadron named the building after a local First World War hero.

Flight Lieutenant Simon Jones DFC RAF was the first Officer Commanding of the squadron but that was not before an esteemed military career that has inspired cadets to follow in his footsteps and invest their time in the community.

“It’s only right that as the RAF is celebrating its centenary year, we are here to commemorate one of its first pilots,” said Dame Kate Thomas DCVO. “Simon Jones, who survived the war and lived to give so much back, will not be forgotten.

“The cadets are an important part of our community and we should welcome every opportunity to support them. Our young people are our future and we need to provide them with every possible opportunity to develop and thrive. We are very proud of what they achieve.”

Born to a Cardiganshire farming family in 1894, Simon was a civil servant until 1917 when he passed medical selection. He was posted to the Royal Flying Corps Cadet Wing at Denham in Buckinghamshire and then studied at a school of military aeronautics at Oxford University.

Simon was later posted to No 25 Squadron and based in France following extensive training. Equipped with a two seater De Havilland DH4 light bomber aircraft, they embarked on dangerous missions for long range reconnaissance and photography behind enemy lines.

Simon received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) following the formation of the RAF in 1918 and after the end of the First World War, he then joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1923. Simon became involved with cadets and the Air Training Corps when it was officially established by King George VI in 1941.

The Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales delivered the building project and our special thanks go to; Headquarters RAF Air Cadets, Ball & Company Chartered Building Surveyors, QDL Contractors Limited and the late Jim McCarthy, Sara Tucker and Paul Bowyer.

As the enabling voice for reserves and cadets, RFCA for Wales provides reserves and cadets with the venues where they work and train to unlock their potential. This helps cadets to grow through life changing experiences and Cadet Warrant Officer Katie Thomas is one of the many young people to have benefitted from the new building.

Katie said: “I enjoy the sport side of it and I lead sport sessions for cadets. From cadets, I’ve got sport leaders qualifications and it’s helped me to get a job teaching netball. It’s had a massive impact on me and given me skills to get something I always wanted to do.

“My favourite activity on squadron is teaching. We now have the classrooms and equipment to be able to teach them properly. This includes the basics; history of the RAF, map reading, principals of flight and initial expedition training. It’s made it a lot easier, we can access computers now and have set rooms for every individual activity.”

Behind every successful squadron is a team of dedicated volunteers and Katie encourages adults from any background to consider the impact they could make by joining their local cadet organisation.

She said: “Go for it. Go for every opportunity you possibly can. Don’t be scared or put off by coming to a new place. It has changed my life completely. I was the quietest person ever when I joined and now I’m the chatty one. Go for it!”

No 415 (Merthyr Tydfil) Squadron is based at the Drill Hall on Bethesda Street. Interested in attending? Click here to visit their official website and get in touch with the team.

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