The 27th January 2017 was a very exciting day for Oxfordshire’s Blue Skies students as they reached the end of their Level 1 programme. The students celebrated all of their hard work and achievements at their Graduation Ceremony hosted at Carterton Community College. During the ceremony, the students had the opportunity to give a final presentation to a room full of parents and VIPs. Each student spoke about their experiences on the Blue Skies programme, from dinghy drills to flight simulators, low ropes to parachute training and explained what those opportunities had meant to them.
The Mayor of Carterton, Councillor Lynn Little also attended to offer her congratulations to the students. All 14 students, aged 12 and 13, completed the course and were awarded their graduation certificates by Dr Emma Egging, CEO of the Jon Egging Trust and Wg Cdr Simon Boyle 70 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton. Other members of the RAF were able to join the graduation to celebrate the impact of their work with the students throughout the course.
One of the students, Josh aged 13, was so inspired by his experiences that he painted a picture of the A400M aircraft they had been on. This was framed and presented to RAF Brize Norton as a symbol of the students’ appreciation.
The Jon Egging Trust launched the first Blues Skies programme in Oxfordshire in November 2016, in partnership with RAF Brize Norton. Personnel form the station worked with the students to provide problem solving, teamwork and confidence building exercises.
At the end of the ceremony Head of School Iain Bilton said: “JET’s ultimate goal is to give young people a helping- hand with self-confidence, self-esteem and self-reliance. Seeing the results of dedicated staff working and assisting children to be fully-integrated members of their communities made me very proud and brought a tear to my eye.”
The students were similarly enthusiastic:
Paris, 13 “The Blue Skies Programme has made me a lot more confident to speak to others and helped me give my own ideas in a group.”
Will, 13 “The Blue Skies programme has given me the confidence to make new friends.”
Nina Patton, JET’s Youth Liaison Officer for Oxfordshire said: “I’ve had the great honour of working with these 14 amazing young people over the past few months and I’m so unbelievably proud of their achievements and how far they have come on their journey.”
All the students are looking forward to embarking on Level 2 of the Blue Skies programme next academic year.