AIR cadets from across Dorset celebrated two special anniversaries at Christchurch Priory yesterday.

More than 200 cadets and staff were joined by Wing Commander Vanessa Toth, Officer Commanding Dorset Wilts Wing, to mark Air Training Corps Sunday, the annual founding celebration.

But the event had an added significance as it marked the 75th anniversary of the older Air Defence Cadet Corps, of which three Dorset squadrons – 130 (Bournemouth), 149 (Poole) and 171 (Christchurch) – were among the first units in the country.

To mark the occasion the cadets paraded into the Priory for a service, joined by civic dignitaries including Bournemouth Mayor Rod Cooper, after which they enjoyed refreshments at the Royal British Legion in Bargates.

Christchurch unit commander Adrian Hutchinson said: “The cadets all know about the history of the squadron and it is a source of pride for them to know ours is among the oldest in the country. There is a good bit of rivalry between the units so it is a great thing to have.

“We have our banner here today which is also 75 years old and I think they appreciate having something tangible to make them more aware of our heritage.”

As well as flying planes and gliders at Upavon and Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, cadets enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, sports and opportunities to learn new skills such as painting and drawing, and the corps aims to inspire confidence and leadership skills. Cadets also take part in military, civic and remembrance events across the county.

Anyone interested in volunteering as an adult helper with the Air Cadets – military background not required – should contact Roger Starling on