Pilot Officer Jen Grainger
I’m Jen Grainger, Pilot Officer and Officer in Charge at 361 (Gateshead) Squadron.
I joined the ATC as a cadet and reached the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer before timing out. I then took a couple of years away and came back in 2017 as a Civilian instructor at 224 (Hexham) squadron to help out with their administration. Very quickly I remembered how much I loved Air Cadets and started getting involved with more activities both on and off the squadron.
At Gateshead, I am in charge of the Squadron, which basically means I oversee the running off all elements in training and activities as well as the health & safety and wellbeing of my CFAV’s and cadets. I spend a lot of my time developing cadet NCO’s and CFAV’s and helping to guide them in any areas of interest they have. I enjoy knowing that I am making a difference to the young people in our community, giving them skills that they may have not had the opportunity to get otherwise and hoping they are shaped into young adults ready for future life.
During my time as a member of staff, I’ve gained my First Aid and Instructor qualifications. I’ve also gained a lot of management skills from my officer course which helps in both my day job and cadet life. I spend around 40 hours a month on Air Cadet activities, including our parade evenings.
In my day job, I’m training to become a network engineer for a telecommunications company looking after the nations phone and internet lines. In any spare time I have I enjoy walking, mountain biking and anything outdoors. I love riding my motorbike, especially in the summer.
My advice for prospective volunteers? Try everything once but don’t be afraid to say you didn’t enjoy it. You will find your speciality but try to branch out into other areas so you can get the most of your time. There is as much potential for growth as an adult volunteer as there is for cadets.