On Sunday 16th July 2017, the marching band of 5F (Northampton) Squadron, RAF Air Cadets, opened the F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone.
This prestigious honour came about following the band successfully opening the 24 Hour Endurance series at Silverstone in April 2017. Silverstone were so impressed with the band in April, that they showed videos of the band to FIA who said ‘yes’ to opening the F1 GP.
For the actual ceremony itself, the band played for approximately 15 minutes. They entered onto the track from the pit lane leading the parade of National flags of the participating teams and drivers from around the world. The band marched and played along the starting grid where they halted before the National Anthem and the Red Arrows fly past.
Following the opening ceremony, the band made their way back to Stowe Centre, their accommodation for the day, to change out of uniform and enjoy the rest of the day watching the race.
Due to F1 rights we were not allowed to take photos of the band when formed up in the pit lane or on the starting grid. However, following a request on Facebook the evening before, for anyone attending the Grand Prix to upload any pictures or videos they had taken of the band performing (@5faircadets), the Squadron has been inundated with pictures, videos and media clips. We would like to say a very big thank you, to all those lovely people who took the time to respond.
Locally, BBC Radio Northampton visited the Squadron on Thursday to record parts of the last practice and to interview the Officer Commanding and cadets about how they were feeling. They further spoke to the staff and cadets immediately following their performance at Silverstone. All of which can be found on BBC Radio Northampton’s social media page and various programmes.
Our cadet band was seen around the world, by millions of people on National and International media promoting not just 5F (Northampton) Squadron but the wider RAF Air Cadet organisation. For some of the band members the enormity of the occasion is only just beginning to sink in as can be evidenced from what the cadets have said:
“The thought of stepping onto the race track in front of millions of people was immense – it was an opportunity that very few people will get and the pride of doing this will stay with me for a very long time”
Cadet Corey Churchman
“It was an amazing experience getting to represent the Air Cadets in front of millions of viewers from all over the world and a real privilege. So sad it is over and can’t wait for the next opportunity.”
Cadet Cpl Jack-Daniel Leggatt
“Being part of the 2017 F1 British GP opening ceremony was an absolute privilege. It was an amazing experience and surely, a once in a lifetime opportunity? Looking back at it, marching down the Silverstone race track representing 5F (Northampton) Squadron as well as the Air Training Corps nationally and internationally, was the most rewarding and memorable experience of all.”
Cdt Altin Feka (Drum Major)
“To have such an incredible opportunity to perform at the opening of the Grand Prix makes me so proud to be part of such an organisation. All the hard work that’s been put into pulling off this event has been more than worth it! Very proud of my fellow band members, what an amazing experience!”
Cadet Sgt Emma Webber
“Being in the band at Silverstone was, at the time, incomprehensible. I was so full of nerves that the profoundness of it didn’t hit me until the next day. It’s truly amazing to be able to say ‘I opened the FI race as a teenager’. Nothing can compare to the pride.”
Cadet Elise Baker
“A unique opportunity, that was the most rewarding and thrilling experience that I have had within the Air Cadets.”
Cadet Cpl James May
“It was such a great experience and truly, one to remember. We all worked really hard and it paid off well. I felt honoured to be a part of it all even if the thought of all those people watching made me a little nervous. It all worked out well and we did ourselves proud.”
Cadet Cpl Arya Raikundalia