A Royal Air Force cadets squadron has been given The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the top accolade a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The squadron is based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, and is one of more than 1,000 squadrons across the country.
Squadrons are managed by teams of uniformed and non-uniformed adult volunteers who give their time to help plan, organise and provide qualification opportunities to young people.
Before the coronavirus lockdown set in, the squadron volunteers had clocked up an additional 1,330 hours of activities, outside of the five hours each week they give.
During lockdown, the volunteers of the squadron continued to provide opportunities to keep connected with the young people resulting in the award of more than 100 badges, certificates, and qualifications for the cadets.
Wing Commander Andy Pass RAFAC, Officer Commanding South and East Midlands Wing Royal Air Force Air Cadets, said he is "thrilled and delighted" the squadron has been recognised.
"The squadron excels in the delivery of the full cadet experience and there is no question that it's an outstanding RAF Air Cadet unit of the highest order," he said.
"Their countless achievements and successes is a testament to the sheer hard work and commitment of a dedicated group of staff volunteers and civilian committee members serving the needs of an enthusiastic and motivated group of Air Cadets from across Leicestershire.
"Of significant mention is the squadron's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Following suspension of all face-to-face cadet activity, the squadron was a leading force nationally in the implantation of online activity by running Virtual Parade Nights," he added.
Representatives of 1279 (Melton Mowbray) Squadron will receive the award crystal and certificate from Mr Mike Kapur, OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire later this summer.
Two volunteers from the group will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions), along with representatives of the other 241 recipients of this year's award.
The Royal Air Force Air Cadets is a youth organisation, made up of the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force (RAF section), that provides opportunities for young people aged 12 to 20.
Cadets are offered the chance to experience flying, gliding, target shooting, take part in different sports, adventure training and many other activities.
As well as these, cadets get the opportunity to gain qualifications such as BTECs and First Aid qualifications.
The organisation celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.
The Queen's Award was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Recipients are announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation.
Cover image: Flight Sergeant James Marman briefs cadets during a training session (Picture: RAF).