A teenager from York with a dream of becoming an RAF pilot is one of 11 teenagers awarded a Flying Scholarship for their commitment to the work of a national military charity.
Thomas Grieves, 18, an RAF Air Cadet with 110 Squadron in York, fractured his foot earlier this year but was determined to be in full uniform to accept the scholarship so removed his medical support boot.
The award from the Royal Air Forces Association, which supports the RAF family, means he will receive 12 hours of flying lessons and, depending on the rate of his progress, could earn his light aircraft pilot licence.
He and his fellow cadets were presented with their scholarships at the RAF Association’s annual conference by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier.
Mr Grieves said: “I’ve wanted to fly for as long as I can remember, and since I was 10-years-old it’s been my dream to become an RAF pilot.
"This scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for me, as there’s no way I’d have been able to afford these flying lessons myself.
“I fractured my right foot while on the RAF Cosford March in April and I was worried it wouldn’t heal in time for the conference.
"It still hasn’t, but I wanted to be in my full uniform when I met the Chief of the Air Staff to receive my scholarship, so I temporarily removed my walking boot. It was worth it!”
Thomas, who is currently studying for his A Levels at Huntington Sixth Form College, intends to take join the RAF once he has graduated.
His dedication to his RAF Air Cadet squadron, with which he has raised funds for the RAF Association's Wings Appeal as well as other good causes, helped him secure the scholarship.
He continued: “My time with the cadets has taught me the value of taking part in a variety of activities, and I’ve achieved a lot in the five years since I signed up, including all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
"I’d recommend becoming a cadet to anyone interested in flying, or improving themselves generally.”
The flying lessons will take place during the summer at South Warwickshire Flying School.
Group Captain Del Rowlands, Director of Membership for the RAF Association, said: “We’re delighted to be offering these dedicated young people the chance to learn to fly through our Flying Scholarships.
"This year’s applicants were particularly strong, and on behalf of the Association I’d like to wish them all the best during their courses and in their future careers.”
More than 250 young people applied for a place on the 2019 Flying Scholarships.
Three of the scholarships are being sponsored by MBDA, a multi-national defence contractor, and two of them by the Aviation Focus Group, which promotes the exchange of aviation information, and encourages young people interested in the industry. The RAF Association is funding the remaining six.