TWO AIR Cadets from Chichester travelled thousands of miles for a once in a lifetime journey.
Cadet Sergeant Elyot Harmston and Cadet Corporal Jonty Parkin, both aged 16, were part of a selected group of 24 Air Cadets from around the county.
During their three-week expedition to Peru, they helped to construct a new building at an orphanage called Azul Wazi – translated as The Blue House.
Their reward for such hard work was a 75km expedition at heights of more than 4,500 metres during five days along the Salkantay trail to reach the famous remains at Machu Picchu.
The Incan citadel is situated in the Andes Mountains. It was built in the 15th century and later abandoned. Its exact use remains a mystery.
The unique part of the trip was the fact the cadets ran the entire expedition. Staff supported them in decision-making if their help was needed.
Cadet Sgt Harmston and Cadet Cpl Parkin had to be selected for the expedition and earned a place only after a gruelling selection process.
Once they had been chosen, they took part in military leadership training as well as training from the Edale Mountain Rescue Team in the Peak District.
Many of the cadets raised funds to go on the journey of 6,000 miles to South America. One even arranged crowd funding for new clothing and musical instruments to be bought for the 19 orphans who live at Azul Wasi.
Reflecting on the experience, Cadet Sgt Harmston, pictured near left, said: “Working on the orphanage had a big impact. I have done construction work like this before and it was interesting to see the different building methods.
“However, seeing what a huge impact our work would make to the orphans and orphanage was really eye opening for me.”
Among the staff on the pair’s journey was one of the officers from their squadron.
Flying Officer Richard Foster said it had been a privilege to be involved in giving them the opportunity to take part in such an experience.
“To see how they overcame various obstacles and challenges, and to help them to cope with them, was really rewarding and it was a privilege to be a part of their journey,” he said.
“I was lucky to have taken part in a similiar trip at their age, and it changed and shaped my life for the better. I hope it does the same for them.”
Chichester Air Cadets is recruiting 12-17-year-olds in the area.
Overseas expeditions are one of the many activities that the cadets can take part in, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s bronze, silver and gold medals, visiting RAF stations and adventure training.
Contact email@example.com for details of the next open evening.