One Ponoka Air Cadet achieved an honour that not many Canadians have reached.
Warrant Officer Second Class Sarah Nicholson, of 65 Squadron Ponoka Air Cadets, was presented with her gold pin, which represents her reaching the pinnacle of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award – Canada program. The award is designed for youths aged 14 to 24 to help them strive for goals and challenge them for the future as they progress through the bronze, silver and gold levels.
Nicholson began when she was 14 and finished off last year, but found out at a special presentation Nov. 14 that the final paperwork had been completed. Former 65 Squadron commander Major Tracey Fiedler handed her the pin and Nicholson will receive her official certificate next fall from a member of the Royal family.
“That’s the exciting part all in itself and was just a bit more of a push to get the gold done faster,” Nicholson stated, who graduated from Ponoka Secondary Campus in June and is presently taking courses at the Alberta Institute of Massage along with working at the Ponoka Gymnastics Club.
“It reminds you of everything you have done and you can see all of the places where you have made a difference. It makes me personally proud.”
Having spent more than three years to reach gold, Nicholson explained the program has helped in a few areas of her life, not just with cadets.
“For anyone wanting to do this, find something you love to do, something you’ll enjoy and make it an everyday habit because it will better yourself and other people,” said Nicholson.
Award winning squad
For a small town group of cadets, earning a pair of provincial awards is truly an impressive accomplishment.
The 65 Squadron Ponoka Air Cadets was named as the top air cadet squadron in Alberta and in the region. Southern Alberta Officer in Charge (OIC) Major Randy Fisher was in town Nov. 14 to present the regional and provincial awards.
The regional award consists of 210 squadrons in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories and was presented for the 2016-17 training year.
The provincial award consists of 51 squadrons in southern Alberta.
In presenting the awards, Fisher explained just how impressive it is for a squadron from a small area to win both awards.
“It’s a big competition and it’s incredible what 65 Ponoka had done. The leadership and everyone here does a fantastic job and it’s the front line that does all of this. Everything lies with the cadets, staff and parents. The commitment and support here are great,” said Fisher.
The awards were received by two of the people responsible for helping the cadets reach this remarkable achievement — former squadron commander Fiedler and current squadron commander Capt. Michelle Comeau.
“It’s all on the cadets for taking the time to learn and put in the effort, plus the parents and the dedicated staff in partnership,” said Fiedler.
Comeau took over as commander in May and she was a bit shocked by the awards.
“For sure, it was a team effort. I’m always proud of the cadets, but being acknowledged for it on such a big scale, I was never expecting to get it for the entire region,” said Comeau.