SKIPTON Air Cadet Sergeant Sam Henderson will carry the Skipton Royal British Legion Standard on Remembrance Day this year after winning the Yorkshire North East County Youth Standard-Bearer competition last weekend. Skipton Royal British legion chairman George Martin writes about a proud day for Skipton.




SIXTEEN-year-old Sam Henderson, a member of 264 Skipton Air Training Corps, became a youth member of the Skipton RBL branch last year when the ATC and the Skipton RBL formed an affiliation. 

Sam's success at county competition level last weekend gives him a particularly important roll on Remembrance Day in Skipton this coming November.

Skipton RBL branch chairman George Martin said: "The purpose of a Legion Branch affiliating with a local Service Youth Organisation, is to promote mutual support and encouragement to each other's aims and objectives, within the local community.’ One mutual objective was to promote standard-bearer training to provided standard-bearers for the future. Cadet Sergeant Henderson immediately put his name forward to be trained.

"The training was carried out by recently retired Standard Bearer, Harry Dowson, Honorary Freeman of Skipton, who gave up his time to pass on his skills and tips. Every year, the RBL holds a variety of competitions throughout the country, starting at county level, then regional and finally national."

In Skipton, Remembrance Day begins with a parade through town from Bunkers Hill, along Newmarket Street, up the High Street to the war memorial where a service of Remembrance, two minutes' silence and the laying of wreaths takes place.

At the front of the parade, standards and flags of Skipton organisations are carried by their respective standard-bearers. As the Royal British Legion is the custodian of Remembrance, its standard takes the lead followed by organisations such as the Royal Naval Association, Air Training Corp, and regimental standards.

Following a discussion with Sam, his family, ATC Commanding Officer Jonathan Abbey and Harry Dowson, it was agreed that he would make a good candidate to represent Skipton RBL in the competition. 

And so it was a proud day for the Henderson family as the competition took place and Cadet Henderson was put through his paces at Heworth, York. The Yorkshire North East County is made up of over 50 branches of which Skipton is part.

George added: "The county chairman, Liz Spivey, welcomed everyone. The tension in the auditorium was becoming quite tense as each competitor was inspected and marked by two independent judges. Each candidate was judged on their appearance and bearing. As part of the rules, youth members who are part of an affiliated organisation are allowed to wear their organisations uniform. Cadet Henderson was given permission by his squadron Commanding Officer to wear the ATC uniform which was to the highest of standards and worn with immense pride.

"The standard cleanliness and associated ‘pole’ polished and general maintenance was marked with intricate scrutiny. The proximity of the judges and the silence in the auditorium would test the nerves of most, however, Sam never wavered or showed any nerves throughout the whole inspection process.

"Next was the ability to follow a series of commands at both the halt and ‘on the march.’ It was obvious that the ‘drill’ training given by the ATC squadron played a major part in this section of the competition. Examples of such commands were ‘dipping’ the standard as an 'Act of Homage', Royal Salute or when wet or muddy conditions.

"After all competitors had completed the rigorous inspection and drill movements, the long wait for the judges to tally up the scores finally arrived. The standard-bearers were again paraded into the auditorium for the results. A loud cheer from Sam's family and friends almost took the roof off the church."

Sam said after the announcement he had won: "I am glad that I entered the competition and was delighted to win and was told that I was awarded the honour of being the County Youth Standard-Bearer. In January next year I will be presented with the county standard at the county conference. I am thankful for the opportunity George Martin has given me, and all the training and support provided by Harry Dowson."

Sam now has the chance to compete in the regional competition against Northumbria and South and West Yorkshire counties. Additionally, he will have the opportunity to represent the county and parade the County Youth Standard at various events during 2024.

Sam’s very supportive parents and brother were overjoyed with the result. They said: ‘“We are so grateful to George Martin, Harry Dowson and all the members of the Skipton branch for the support they have shown Sam. We are immensely proud of him and we are looking forward to the regional competition.”

Both the ATC Squadron and the Skipton Royal British Legion are growing in numbers and this week the RBL Skipton branch reached over 100 in membership which has not been seen for many years.

Any youngsters wishing to join the squadron should email or call 01756 709 260 between 1900 hours and 2130 hours on Tuesday or Thursday.

The Skipton branch of the Royal British Legion meets at the Three Links Club on the first Friday of each month. Go along to join in contact Philip Chadwich on email: