A COTSWOLD charity has just proved it’s one in a million, with its largest-ever grant to the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) pushing the total donated to the Cadets to well over £1 million.

At a ceremony at RAF Syerston near Newark on Thursday, guest of honour Sir David Jason – best known for playing the role of ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in the BBC tv series Only Fools and Horses - presented a cheque on behalf of the Fairford-based RAF Charitable Trust for £125,000.

This is the first instalment of an overall grant of £625,000 to fund 25 flight simulators for Air Cadets.

Honorary Vice Patron of the Royal International Air Tattoo since 1999, Sir David is a keen supporter of the airshow and attends every year.

Sir David said: “I’m delighted to be presenting the first of 25 simulators to the Air Cadet Organisation on behalf of the RAF Charitable Trust.

“When I was younger one of my ambitions was to join the RAF but I didn’t feel I had the academic qualfications.

Many years later I had the chance to fly a glider and it’s because of that that I had the courage to pursue my other passion – acting.

Without flying I don’t think that we would have had Del Boy!”

Keen aviator Sir David has flown gliders and helicopters, and was one of the first to try out the new simulator at the presentation.

He added: “I spent half my flying career on the ground because of the British weather, but now Cadets can use these simulators to continue their flying education whatever the conditions outside.

It’s a brilliant piece of kit, and it’s going to be a great help in teaching young people to fly.”

Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, Chairman of the RAF Charitable Trust based at Fairford in Gloucestershire, commented: “Today is a major milestone, as we celebrate passing through the landmark of £1 million pounds handed to the Air Cadets in our nine-year history.

The Air Cadets are a major beneficiary.

And so they should be – they represent the spirit of the future of aerospace and aviation in UK.”

He added: “I am delighted that our largest-ever donation will make a significant contribution toward the Trust’s raison d’être, to promote, support and encourage the current and future Royal Air Force.

The sum involved, taking the total gifted by the Trust to the Air Cadets to well over £1 million, is a fantastic indication of the charity’s long-term commitment to the ACO.”

Also attending were Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Gp Cpt John Middleton, Officer Commanding No 2 Flying Training School and Chair of the VGS Simulator Project Team, Alan Smith, Chairman of the RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, and his wife Linda.

Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, said: “Our organisation’s key attractor for young people is aviation and our Strategy focuses on keeping flying and gliding activity at the heart of the Air Cadet programme.

These flight simulators and the associated projects will significantly enhance our ability to support cadet aviation and we are enormously grateful to the RAF Charitable Trust for its generosity.

“The Trust has been our greatest sponsor for some time now, and has donated well over £1 million to support Air Cadet activity.

A BIG thank you to all of the Trustees from the Air Cadets for their generous support – it really will make a difference to the next generation.”

Gp Cpt John Middleton, Officer Commanding No 2 Flying Training School and Chair of the VGS Simulator Project Team, said: “Air Cadets will thoroughly enjoy using the 25 new simulators that the RAF Charitable Trust is sponsoring.

Using the new simulators will enable them to glide and learn about flight before they have even taken off and that will greatly advance their aviation knowledge.

I am thrilled to know that these high-technology simulators will be taking us into a new era.”

• Each simulator costs around £25,000, making this grant the largest sum ever awarded in the history of the Trust. It is the first of several key ACO projects to which the Trust has committed, including: £50,000 to fund 20 flying scholarships; £24,000 for up to 20 air-rifle shooting ranges; and £10,000 sponsorship for Air Cadet Magazine.

• The RAF Charitable Trust raises money through the staging of the Royal International Air Tattoo, the Royal Air Force Concerts and other similar activities, and provides grants within the RAF ‘family’ to satisfy the Trust’s objectives: to PROMOTE the Royal Air Force; to SUPPORT its people now and into the future; and to ENCOURAGE air-mindedness and the aviation-related education of youth.

The Royal International Air Tattoo is staged annually in support of the RAF Charitable Trust at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. This year’s event takes place from July 11 to 13: tickets are only available in advance from airtattoo.com or by calling 0800 107 1940.