'Peerless' Terry given British Empire Medal

PUBLISHED: 16:10 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:13 11 June 2019

Terry Knights (right) at the 70th anniversary for the 299 squadron of the Air Training Cadets. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 5987-13-11AW

Terry Knights (right) at the 70th anniversary for the 299 squadron of the Air Training Cadets. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exe 5987-13-11AW

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An Exmouth man who has dedicated more than half his life to voluntarily helping generations of young people has been given royal recognition.

Terry Knights (second from the right) at the final Exmouth Air Cadets parade at the group's old headquarters.Terry Knights (second from the right) at the final Exmouth Air Cadets parade at the group's old headquarters.

Terry Knights, 87, was given a British Empire Medal in the Queen's birthday honours list for his voluntary service to young people and the community in Exmouth.

Mr Knights has been involved with the Exmouth Air Cadets since 1971 increasing the number of parading recruits from six to 40 in that time and overseeing the introduction of the squadron's first female cadet.

In his recommendation citation, Devon and Somerset Air Cadets' wing commander John Parsons said: "His peerless example has enthused hundreds of cadets as well as other volunteer staff and his exceptional personal qualities are an inspiration to all."

Mr Knights joined the RAF in 1950 where he completed three years of service before being forced to leave for health reasons.

Upon leaving he joined the air cadets unit in Derby as a flying officer.

In the late 1960s, his work took him to Canada so he joined their air cadets unit before returning to England in 1970.

A year later he took command of Exmouth's squadron and has been involved ever since.

In the last 49 years he has overseen the development of a training programmes and he also introduced the squadron to the Ten Tors challenge and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

He retired from uniformed service in 1987 and continued with the squadron as a civilian instructor.

As well as volunteering with the cadets, he has also given up his time as a footpath warden in Exmouth for nearly 25 years.

In a nomination letter, Sue Cody, Exmouth Town Council office manager, said: "Terry Knights is a real gentleman who always has time for people and volunteering within the community.

"Terry carries out all the related tasks and this is alongside his other voluntary activities and always does so with a smile and sense of humour."

Mr Knights has also volunteered at Age Concern Exmouth since 1995 and was involved in setting up a day centre for men with mental issues.

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