Swanage air cadet hall ‘unfit’ for post-Covid era

Swanage Air Cadets branch is to close because of changes needed to the old building in order to meet Covid restrictions.

The Swanage and Wareham branches were subject to an inspection following alterations made in the light of the Covid pandemic.

But while Wareham will remain open, Swanage has been told it must close.

Swanage Air Cadets

Swanage Air Cadet hut in Court Road dates back to the First World War

Decision “out of the blue”

The decision by the regional commandant caught the branch leadership by surprise. There was a full list of youngsters waiting to join.

Flight Lieutenant Mary Brennan, branch officer commanding, said:

“The news that we were not going to be able to reopen came a bit out of the blue.

“The real problem with Swanage is that the hut in Court Road is over a hundred years old – it dates from the First World War.”

Swanage Air Cadets

Three Swanage air cadets receive the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Work carried out on hut

A considerable amount of work had been carried out to make the building ‘Covid safe’, including putting tables two metres apart, installing hand sanitiser and signage. 

But in the end the cost of bringing 2185 (Swanage) DF up to the required standard is considered uneconomical.

Swanage Air Cadets

Gliding at Upavon – cadet in the front seat, instructor in the rear

Question mark over future of site

Flight Lieutenant Brennan said:

“Our tenure of that site is not going to be forever, so that puts a question mark over further investment in the short term.”

Young people in Swanage are invited to join or transfer to 2185 (Wareham) Squadron, which is in St Martin’s Lane in Wareham.

Swanage Air Cadets

Cadets and staff at the annual dinner and award presentation

“Opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have”

Swanage DF was established in 2000, after a public meeting to address the lack of activities for young people in the area.

But Flight Lieutenant Brennan is concerned that travel to the neighbouring town might be prohibitive for some young people.

She said:

“I was disappointed because to me Swanage does have young people who have problems and we are able to give them opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

But she added:

“We would like to thank Swanage Town Council, and the many groups in Swanage who have supported the cadets over the past years. The cadets have enjoyed helping at various events in the town.”

Steve Churchill, branch chairman of Swanage Royal British Legion, said:

“They have been tremendous – they’ve helped us with the Poppy Appeal, D-Day events and Armed forces events. It will be a shame to see them go. It is a sad loss for the town.”

Further details

For more details on the Air Cadets, you can email them.

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