Red Arrows pilot’s legacy inspires pupils

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:
Inspiration: St Aldhelm’s students take part in Blue Skies. Teachers & students are pictured below with staff from the John Egging Trust, including Flight Lieutenant Mike Crockford (above front left) & trainee test pilot Roisin Atkin (front right)

A youth engagement programme set up in memory of a brave Red Arrows pilot is helping to inspire pupils at a Dorset school.

The Jon Egging Trust was launched following the death of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, who lost his life while flying in a Red Arrows display at the Bournemouth Air Festival in 2011.

Flight Lieutenant Egging was passionate about inspiring young people through his love of flying and the charity created in his name supports students to reach their full potential.

The charity runs two youth programmes – Blue Skies, which aims to build confidence and self-esteem, and Inspirational Outreach, which sends inspirational figures into schools to deliver motivational talks to pupils.

The Blue Skies programme works in five regions – Lincolnshire, Dorset, Norfolk, Yorkshire and North Wales – and helps young people facing hurdles in their lives to overcome adversity and boost their aspirations.

The latest recruits to the initiative include 15 year 9 pupils from St Aldhelm’s Academy in Poole. Head of year 9 Simon Atkins said: “We thought long and hard about who would benefit from taking part in the programme. We were looking for students who needed to build on or raise their self-esteem and confidence. Everyone is very excited about it and we were inundated with pupils wanting to take part.”

Over the next three years the pupils will get the chance to develop their life-skills and work skills through a range of activities, many of them linked to aviation, engineering and science.

Last month, the St Aldhelm’s youngsters visited MoD Boscombe Down, an aircraft testing site, where they got the chance to climb into helicopters and planes, try on night vision goggles and hear about pilots’ survival training.

“They were really engaged and keen to talk about what they had seen,” said Mr Atkins. “The programme is already having a knock-on effect. The pupils’ interpersonal skills have developed and one boy has said he might consider a career in the RAF.”

In July, after they have completed the first part of the three-year programme, the pupils will give presentations about what they have learned and receive their BTEC WorkSkills Level 1 qualifications at a graduation ceremony at Bournemouth University. They will do Level 2 in year 10 and Level 3 in year 11.

St Aldhelm’s principal Sian Thomas said: “This will be a phenomenal experience for these young people and one which we hope will see their confidence and aspirations soar.”

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