by Cdt Mackay

The National Concert Band Camp was at RAF Cranwell this year. I am a trumpet player and I heard about the camp from my Squadron (2425 Nottingham Airport Squadron).

This was my first camp and I was feeling nervous, but looking forward to meeting the RAF Regiment Band players as they were going to spend the week with us. We also played with the RAF College Band members which was a nice surprise.

When I arrived I was shown to my room which was small but nice. I was on my own instead of sharing as I had expected to. One of the best things was that everybody was so kind and welcoming. We were introduced to the staff. These included Flt Lt Bonhomme, WO Butler, and Sgt Cole. The week was hard work but great fun and the choice of music was varied but included some very nice pieces. The bandmasters decided on

  • The Air Cadet March;   
  • Gabriel’s Oboe;   
  • The Lion King;   
  • Royal Air Force March Past

 along with other fabulous pieces.

During the whole week the Red Arrows were practising at RAF Cranwell and we were given free displays which was brilliant. Also, on Monday afternoon we had a tour around “The College” It is Magnificent! Wing Commander Singleton told us about its history and it inspired me immensely.  This was a real bonus and it was wonderful just walking around such a historical building. One of the other things I really enjoyed was the uniform prep. It may seem a bit geeky, but I found it really helpful. Sgt Cole taught us how to polish and bull our parade shoes and also how to iron our uniform correctly. It was a very beneficial session for me. 

We also had activities like bowling, a film night (we watched “Skyfall”) and an afternoon of leadership exercises (sport).

For me the highlight of the week was meeting the new Air Commodore, Dawn McCafferty. She was really nice and had some very good ideas for the Air Cadet Organisation such as getting more flying time for cadets. You also got a badge for achieving this standard of musicianship which was a nice surprise.  Of course, another highlight was the actual concert. It went really well and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a fantastic week not only because of the music we played, but also because I made some fabulous new friends who I hope to meet again. The week was wonderful and if you love music and Air Cadets I would thoroughly recommend going on this camp. At the beginning of the week I was feeling nervous, by the end of it I didn’t want to go home. It’s a wonderful experience, I would love to go again. 

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