Cadets step out to complete four-day march

Regan Wood (right) receives his Nigmegen Medal.
Regan Wood (right) receives his Nigmegen Medal.

Three cadets were flying high after overcoming a series of challenges.

The trio from 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron joined friends from across the Durham/Northumberland Wing to complete the prestigious Nijmegen Marches in Holland.

For 18-year-old Benjamin Collins, and Regan Wood and Mary Delariarte, both 16, the journey started 11 months previously when the youngsters set themselves the challenge of training for the march.

During the following weeks, fitness increased as the training marches around the north east lengthened in the lead-up to a qualifying 50-mile march at RAF Cosford in Wolverhampton.

Such is the demand of Nijmegen that only those who can prove their ability to complete the challenging preparatory march are allowed to take part.

And the three youngsters were delighted at their achievement.

Regan said: “I thought I was fit until I realised how far I had to march.

“It was really good fun to meet new people and make new friends as we helped each other through the training.”

After leaving the UK destined for Nijmegen, the team of young people and their adult volunteers rested for the first couple of days at Heumensoord Camp, a tented facility just south of the town of Nijmegen.

They enjoyed learning about and getting a taste of the local culture, as they acclimatised before making final preparations for the walking days.

Regan added: “In Holland, we visited a local air museum and attended the Military Memorial at Arnhem to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers. We saw a number of graves of soldiers from Northumberland.

“It really put into perspective what the march was all about.”

After taping feet and making final uniform and kit preparations, they were ready for the pre-sunrise start. Four days later, the team, coupled with blisters, crossed the finish line on the Via Gladioli in Nijmegen to complete the 103.5 mile, Nijmegen Four-Day March; earning their road marching medals and Nijmegen badges.

Regan said: “It was the best thing I’ve ever done and I feel really proud of completing the march. It’s the toughest challenge I’ve come across, but it was worth it.”

Squadron Commanding Officer, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson said: “We are proud of all of the young people who completed the marches. They’ve worked hard for almost a year, displaying resilience, determination and commitment, managing their training alongside school.”

He added: “The medal and badge is a true testament to their character.”

The Longbenton Air Cadet Squadron is currently open to new members in Year 8 and above. Visit www.2344.org.uk