Expanded school project in memory of Red Arrows pilot

Students from a Lincoln academy have been selected to take part in the second year of a national project set up in memory of Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging.

The Blue Skies programme, established by the Jon Egging Trust, took off in Lincolnshire last year with pupils from The Priory Witham Academy leading the way.

Now Dr Emma Egging, the wife of Flight-Lieutenant Egging, is expanding the Blue Skies scheme for schools in other areas of the country as well as a second-tier qualification.

Seven of the Witham students who completed last year’s teamwork syllabus are now stepping up to complete the first-ever level 2 leadership qualification.

They will take part in sessions at RAF Waddington, RAF Coningsby and RAF Cranwell before they join their level 1 counterparts for a “graduation” ceremony at the academy in June.

The Level 2 youngsters will also be offered the chance of a flying trip from Coningsby in the summer.

Blue Skies Red Arrows

A further 12 Witham pupils, aged between 12 and 14, are signed up for the 2013 level 1 programme and have already experienced a behind-the-scenes day with the Red Arrows at their temporary Cranwell home.

As part of their Teamwork qualification, they will also take part in sessions at Cranwell, Waddington and Coningsby, working with airbase personnel and meeting crew from the Typhoon and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Emma Egging said: “The programme connects young people with inspirational individuals and environments connected to aviation. Through this partnership they gain a unique opportunity to build confidence, self-esteem and achieve accredited training in work and life skills.”

“With fund-raising support and based on the success of the Lincoln model, we can continue to expand and we aim to create a nationwide network of Blue Skies that reaches as many young people as possible.”

Academy Assistant Head John Wiles said: “The impact of Blue Skies has been huge. The staff have seen a real, tangible improvement in behaviour and motivation to succeed which has borne fruit in the students’ overall academic outcomes.

The success of the pilot project at Witham has led to more schools being involved this year – the Glenmoor & Winton Federated Trust in Bournemouth and Downham Market High School in Norfolk.

The Years 8 and 9 Witham students who met Arrows pilots at Cranwell also watched a low-level aerobatics display, tried out flying gear for size and toured the Reds’ hangar, meeting the backroom teams who help put the famous planes on display every summer.

Student Cait Thornhill said: “This has been a fantastic experience. I’ve been collecting autographs from everyone I meet and they’ve all been really kind. It’s been so interesting to see all the people involved behind the scenes. I’m really looking forward to all our other visits, too.”