The sky’s the limit

Ahead of Armed Forces Day we hear from an Air Cadet who’s devoted her spare time to action, adventure and aviation.


I’m Holly Bicknell, I’m sixteen years old and I’m a Cadet Corporal from Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Air Cadets.

Being in the RAF Air Cadets, I get involved in many events throughout the year, from Remembrance in November to Air Shows in the summer. Armed Forces Day is special to me because it is for the whole Armed Forces community, regulars, reservists, veterans past and present and us cadets too.

Together the Sea, Army, and Air cadets have over 100,000 members, many of which will be proud to stand alongside veterans and current personnel on Armed Forces Day.

The Air Cadets has over 1,000 squadrons across the UK and nearly 56,000 air cadets and volunteer staff. Thankfully for me, girls were able to join from the early 1980s and the organisation has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Since joining the Air Cadets my life has changed dramatically. I have become much more confident in doing things I’d never thought I could do.

Three years ago before I joined I was very shy. I would always go to school being the one who everyone bullied because I just simply could not stand up for myself. I remember it being very rare that I enjoyed school or came home with a smile on my face.

But when I was informed of this great organisation, I became so excited. I decided that I would join for no one but myself!

The amazing thing about joining the Air Cadets was that all of us have the same interests in common. This doesn’t make you feel out of place. We all like each other and get on really well.

Through all the events I have taken part in with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing, such as leadership courses and numerous week long camps, I believe I have now become a better person. I’m not afraid to lead and complete any task that is thrown at me. So much so that I am soon to complete the 100 mile Nijmegen March next month!

I’m learning to fly thanks to a scholarship from the Honourable Company of Air Pilots and I’m really looking forward to hopefully have a career in the Royal Air Force.

Cadets really have been a wonderful part of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

So, as the Royal Air Force’s motto says, Per ardua ad astra — ‘Through adversity to the stars!’

For more information on the Air Cadets and how to join please visit: https://www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets/want-to-join/join-as-a-cadet/