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Budding naval aviators help to spruce up local church grounds

28 February 2017
Young Officers at Britannia Royal Naval College have taken time out of their rigorous training to offer their services to local churches.

A group of 10 hopeful Naval Aviators, currently enrolled on the Initial Warfare Aviation course at the College, braved the cold and damp conditions pummelling the south coast to aid the local community.

The group spent their first day clearing the grounds of debris at St Clement's Church.

Midshipman James Pottage said, "Having visited the church on a previous occasion to commemorate the 100th anniversary of former Dartmouth cadet John Riley - a man who crash landed en route to BRNC for training - we knew that the graveyard could do with some care and attention.

“As such, we offered our assistance, and shifted a lot of leaves and tree branches over the two days we were there. We also tidied up many of the tributes left with the graves. It felt incredibly humbling helping the church to respect and remember those who have passed."

The group was spilt in two for their next task; half went to St Saviours church in the centre of Dartmouth while the other half went to St Petrox Church by Dartmouth Castle.

It was hugely rewarding to be able to give a little of our spare time to provide a service to those in the community who need it

Midshipman Edward Riley, Young Officer BRNC Dartmouth

The St Saviours group did an excellent job tending to the churchyard grounds. Meanwhile, the St Petrox group were putting their backs into righting the leaning gravestones and restoring them to their former glory.

Midshipman Edward Riley said, "It was hugely rewarding to be able to give a little of our spare time to provide a service to those in the community who need it.

“Despite a few confused looks from passers-by who may have mistaken our innocent straightening of gravestones for a much more nefarious activity more closely associated with the Victorian era, we all felt like we'd really made a difference."

The work was conducted the week prior to the Young Officers starting their grading course which is a pass/fail assessment to show an indication of how they will cope within the military aviation training.

Potential observers are based at the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in Cornwall whereas their pilot and air traffic controller counterparts go to RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset.

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