THE DUCHESS of Cambridge led a strong female line-up as she launched the 75th anniversary of the Air Cadets.
Perhaps in a sign of modern-day girl power – and for the first time in the unit’s history – there is now a female Commandant in Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, a female ambassador to the RAF Cadets in TV personality Carol Vorderman, and a royal female patron in Kate.
Kate stepped out in her first engagement as Honorary Air Commandant of the Air Cadets, taking over from the Duke of Edinburgh, to attend a thanksgiving service at the RAF church of St Clement Danes in central London.
Mathematician Ms Vorderman, whose daughter Katie joined the Air Cadets, believes that Kate will be a big help in attracting women into what is often seen as a male-dominated sector.
She said: “I think it is fantastic. Obviously Kate is possibly the most famous woman internationally – I would imagine.
“Her husband is a flier. Her brother-in-law is a flier. Her father-in-law is a flier and her mum used to work in an airline. There is a strong aviation link there for her. She obviously has a great appreciation of the military and enthusiasm for youth.
“We have 42,000 Air Cadets now and they say it gives them a structure and something they are very proud to belong to and to serve in.
“I think it is unusual for an organisation to be able to give everything that the Air Cadets can give to these young people. It really does impact young lives very positively and I am just thrilled Kate wants to be a part of it.”
Kate then took a short walk from the packed church of 500 cadets, volunteers and senior RAF officials to the Royal Courts of Justice. This was the first chance for the young cadets to meet their new patron.
Meanwhile, the Duchess has voiced her belief that the nation’s children should be “supported through difficult times in their lives” in a video message recorded to mark Children’s Mental Health Week.
Kate is the royal patron of the children’s mental health charity Place2Be and in her message she highlights the importance of giving youngsters the “tools to cope, and to thrive” as they encounter life’s challenges.