An Inverness volunteer says he is “humbled” after being awarded a prestigious accolade marking his service with the Royal Air Force Air Cadets.
Neil Jack has been named the best senior non-commissioned officer of the year for Scotland and Northern Ireland, earning him the Goose Bay Cane.
The award is named that after a cane that a warrant officer would carry while on parade.
The 47 year-old is being recognised for his “exemplary efforts, commitment and dedication” to the organisation by working tirelessly to provide opportunities for youngsters through his role as commanding officer of 161-1st Highland squadron in Inverness.
He said he is truly humbled and shocked to be named the 2020 recipient.
He said: “Being awarded the best NCO out of the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland, that’s a massive achievement. It’s just brilliant.
“I got a phone call from the wing commander on Friday night to say I have some good news for you. I had applied for my fast track for Warrant Officer so I thought that was what she was phoning for.
“It’s been really overwhelming. You just don’t expect it.”
His affiliation with the organisation began in 1983 when he enrolled as a cadet at the city squadron.
By 1989 he left the squadron as a cadet Flight Sergeant to pursue other avenues, however, in April 2014 he was approached to return and take up the position of a civilian instructor.
Since then, Mr Jack has dedicated his life to the Air cadets working his way up the ranks to become a Flt Sgt and commanding officer, whilst attending a variety of courses, camps and cadet activities.
He says he hopes his accomplishments will help show youngsters that “what you put in is what you get out.”
He added: “The last six years has been an amazing opportunity. It’s voluntary work but it takes up so much of our time so you have to be dedicated to it. It’s a cause I strongly feel for and I strongly believe in supporting the youngsters.
“I hope that the cadets can see that through commitment, positivity and general approach that they do get rewarded; if they put in 100% then it will be recognised. If you work you can achieve it.”
The award is the latest in a long list of achievements for the Invernesian including his fast track promotion to Flt Sgt, his commendation, his Meritorious Service Award and an invitation to the Queen’s Garden Party at Hollyrood House.
During his reign, the Inverness based squadron has tripled in size and been put forward for The Lees Trophy.
However, he admits that running such an organisation takes a village.
Mr Jack said: “I’m a very humble guy, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I put in 110% for the kids and for the staff but I can’t do this all by myself. The squadron is formed by lots of people and we all work together for the same goal.
“My aim is just to drive and reinforce that goal but independently everyone does their own bit. Without that we are nothing.
“I have a great support system. My wife Lorraine has fully supporting me and helping me along and without her I don’t know what I would be doing.”