It was an evening of memories and friendships rekindled, and pride in being part of 30 years of history for the Elk Valley Air Cadets at a recent 30th anniversary reunion and dinner.
The squadron hosted the event at the Emerald Room of the Causeway Bay Hotel in Sparwood on Apr. 2. Almost 100 current and former cadets, former Commanding Officers and local dignitaries were part of the evening.
Roger Fairhurst, chair of the Squadron Sponsoring Committee, says it was a challenge trying to find everyone and bring them together, but it was well worth it.
“We owe so much to those who came before us. Our squadron originally started because a few young men and women wanted to be part of the cadet program so badly, they would travel to Pincher Creek or Blairmore to take part. After a couple of years, the squadron was formed in Elkford under Captain (ret.) Larry Belik. To know that they had that kind of dedication and passion, we have to respect that and honour it. This event is not just a reunion but a way for us to thank them for what they gave us,” he said.
Fairhurst says it was exciting to see so many of the original cadets at the reunion, as well as the returning Commanding Officers; Charles Burton, Bruce Timbrell, Jerry Gregr, Murray Clow, and Belik were seated at the head table with current CO Captain Sherri Shaw and Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski.
Half of the ‘original six’ air cadets, who were the founding group in 1985-86, came back to be part of the Elk Valley Air Cadets reunion and dinner. From left are: Massimo Santarossa, Duane Keiver and Dwayne Ball. – S.L. Furedi photo
Also invited to attend were representatives of Fernie, Elkford and Sparwood councils and Lions Clubs, Elk Valley RCMP Detachment commander Sgt. Will Thien, and Michel-Natal Royal Canadian Legion Branch 81 Past President John Ward.
“We couldn’t have done this without the help of our sponsors,” said Fairhurst. “We rely on them for so much and try to give back to the community through the volunteer work our squadron does.”
The dinner followed military protocol, starting with the convocation, and the toast to the Queen.
“An event like this teaches our young cadets how to handle themselves in a formal situation, and how to act in a social situation like this. It’s just one of the skills we find cadets carry with them into their adult years,” said Fairhurst.
Massimo Santarossa, one of the original cadets and now a pilot for Air Canada, spoke to the assembled guests and stressed how those skills come in handy, from job interviews to taking on leadership roles in the workplace, and emphasized how much he learned from his days in the squadron.
The weekend finished up with a pancake breakfast at the squadron headquarters, compliments of the Sparwood and Fernie Lions Clubs.
“It was just an amazing way to celebrate our squadron,” said Fairhurst. “I hope we’re all invited back someday for our 50th anniversary by whoever is in the sponsoring committee then.”