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Sheppey Air Cadets' volunteer inspires young people to reach for the sky as part of National Volunteers’ Week

By Andy Gray

An Islander who volunteers is hoping to inspire others to give their time for free.

Ryan Atherton is an adult sergeant with Sheppey Air Cadets and spoke about his experiences to mark National Volunteers’ Week.

The 23-year-old enrolled as a cadet himself aged 15 before singing up as staff in 2010.

Ryan Atherton, of Sheppey Air Cadets, is encouraging others to volunteer
Ryan Atherton, of Sheppey Air Cadets, is encouraging others to volunteer

As squadron warrant officer, his duties involve maintaining uniform standards, organising parade drills and running the stores to ensure members are fully-equipped for tasks.

The group’s twice weekly meetings take place at Barton’s Point.

Ryan, from Rushenden Road, Rushenden, said he runs the rule over about 20 cadets aged between 13 and 18.

Gliding and flying are among activities laid on for youngsters, but there is also a chance to earn BTEC qualifications and take part in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

“The cadets is not just a weekday hobby, the services we provide could lead to a career,” Ryan said. “For me, it’s very satisfying knowing that I’ve helped someone achieve their way in life.”

Away from the cadets, Ryan works as a PCSO.

He said he can not envisage a time when he is not helping fuel youngsters’ flying ambitions.

“I’d be quite happy if I was working with the air cadets for the rest of my life,” he said.

To highlight the campaign, which runs until June 7, Swale council, in conjunction with Swale CVS, has placed billboard posters in Sittingbourne and Faversham and on Sheppey.

They feature web links and email addresses. Images of the winners of the Volunteer Swale Awards, held in March, also appear on them.

An information day will be held by the charity at Phoenix House, Central Avenue, Sittingbourne, today.

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