The cadets of 1084 Market Harborough Squadron have said farewell to Flt Lt Valerie Smith after 15 years as the squadron’s commanding officer.
Flt Lt Smith has decided that after 20 years’ service in the RAF VR(T) she wishes to pursue other interests.
During her time in charge of the squadron, which has provided opportunities for cadets to fly, travel and meet new friends, Flt Lt Smith has seen the band win the Corps National Marching Band Championships on four occasions.
Cadets in the squadron under her wing have also represented the Corps in both the National Concert and Marching Bands.
Flt Lt Smith’s cadets have also represented the Corps in various sporting arenas.
The squadron has consistently ranked in the top 10 of the 20-strong South and East Midlands Wing, finishing third last year.
She has seen several hundred cadets pass through the squadron, each achieving personal milestones, whether it be a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award or a more technical achievement such as a radio communicator’s award.
As well as attending the squadron’s twice-weekly parade nights, she has organised many weekend activities for the cadets, including the annual Belgium trip and the Christmas walking weekend.
Flt Lt Smith has dealt with all the organisation required when running a busy and successful group with up to eight staff and an average of between 30 to 40 cadets.
In addition she has acted as Camp Commandant on many ATC annual camps, been adjutant on 15 air cadet national leadership courses and accompanied cadets on an international air cadet exchange visit to Canada in 1999 and Cyprus this year.
Flt Lt Smith has received a Defence Council letter of appreciation which cited her “dynamic and energetic leadership qualities” and credited her work with the squadron band over the years.
The cadets provided her with a mad hatter’s tea party at her last parade and a signed card, flowers and chocolates.
She thanked the cadets and staff for all their support over the years and wished incoming Officer Commanding Flt Lt Darrell Hill every success before she jetted off into retirement as the cadets wheeled her out of the 1084 headquarters in her chair which was decorated as a Red Arrows Hawk aircraft.