Cadets raise £8,000 in year for kilts and kit

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A cadets’ pipe and drum band celebrated a busy year of events which saw them raise £8,000 for kilts and revamped drum kits.

The XIX Crawley Squadron Air Training Corps’ band held its end-of-year ceilidh in its base in Friston Walk, Ifield, having played at 23 events across the UK in 2014.

The funds were used to buy nine Highland uniforms, which included kilts, and new drum equipment.

Lauren Thynn, 16, of Ifield, plays the bass and tenor drum for the band.

She said: “It’s just great because we can all be kitted out and it means we are all a band.

“Everybody was just really generous in their area.

“We are quite novel. It’s something quite different - you see people on the streets- it’s a spectacle.”

Lauren added her new bass drum harness was reduced the risk of injury while playing.

Parents and guests at the ceilidh heard of the band’s highlight performances.

The cadets gave a private performance to The Queen in Balmoral Castle in August and travelled to Scotland three times.

One of the band’s ten cadets said meeting The Queen “was incredible” .

The band held a flash mob at County Mall in January.

It performed at the town’s Remembrance Parade and the launch of West Sussex’s Poppy Appeal in Queens Square.

The teenagers collected funds in a bucket during their performances.

They held quiz nights, cake sales and raffles, busked and received numerous donations throughout the year.

Some £600 was raised from a raffle during the ceilidh.

Sally Morante, a volunteer who teaches the bagpipes, said: “It’s brilliant they all put a lot of effort into it.

“After something like the remembrance parade they earn £200 in a hour [of busking].

“It’s quite amazing to see their eyes go ‘kerching!’ when the money goes in.”

Kieran McAlea, the band’s lead piper, won a set of bagpipes and the Scottish Piping Society London’s Best Up-and-Coming Piper award.

Ryan Folan, 14, sold 211 £1 raffle tickets in a year and won the prize for selling the most for the second year in a row.

Ryan, of Salisbury Road, Tilgate, who plays the tenor drum, said he had been gliding, flying, hiking and more since he joined the cadets two summers ago.

He added: “The cadets gives us something to do instead of sitting at home all day.

“Even if you don’t want to go into a military career it still gives you that one-up on other people if someone had the same qualifications.”

Ryan, who attends Thomas Bennett Community College, plans to become a Royal Air Force physical training instructor.

He took on an 83-mile trek in France to raise funds for Help for Heroes in May.

The air cadets’ civilian committee gave £1,500 to the band’s funds.

Gatwick Airport Community Trust donated £1,000 in May and The Masons gave £500 in March.