Seventeen-year-old air cadet Lauren Simms was overwhelmed this week after receiving the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Flying Excellence Award.
The award, which represents one of the highest individual honours that can be won by an air cadet, was presented at a ceremony in London by Andrew Linstead, Head of Corporate Business Development (Air) at Lockheed Martin UK.
Air cadets compete nationally for the trophy, which this year was accompanied by a substantial flying bursary generously donated by Lockheed Martin. This bursary will contribute to developing Lauren’s piloting skills as she continues her journey towards achieving a private pilot’s licence.
Cadet Sergeant Lauren Simms, from 992 (Malmesbury) Sqn, said: “The award came as a complete surprise. I attended the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme at Tayside Aviation earlier this year, but unfortunately didn’t quite make solo standard, so I thought I wouldn’t be offered any further funding through my cadet career.
“I was delighted when I heard I’d been nominated and then went on to win the award. I am so grateful as this money should ensure that I can reach solo standard and beyond when I return to Tayside Aviation next year.”
Lauren, who is studying at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham, where she is head girl, plans to join her local university air squadron (UAS) as she continues her studies and pursues a career in aviation.
She continued: “I’ve attended 992 (Malmesbury) Squadron ATC since October 2012, and for the past year I’ve been the Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for Wiltshire. I’ve recently taken more of a mentoring role on the squadron, helping to teach younger cadets the BTEC in Aviation Studies, enabling me to pass on my knowledge and experience of aviation related subjects.”
Staff at Tayside Aviation, which delivers cadet flying training, praised Lauren for her great flying ability and approach to flying training, which has set the benchmark for other cadets to follow, as well as her personal and leadership qualities. She was described as an “outstanding cadet with infectious enthusiasm that stood out head and shoulders above others . . . epitomising the very best of the Air Training Corps.”
RAFCT director Amanda Butcher added: “Lauren’s contribution to the air cadets is exceptional and she truly is a deserving winner of this award. Providing young people with opportunities and invaluable experience within aviation-related fields is a huge part of what we do at the Trust and we hope this award will be a significant boost towards paving the way for Lauren’s future in flying.”