WHEN your grandmother is known as ‘Taunton’s flying housewife’ and the ‘Spitfire Girl’, you’re bound to have an above-average curiosity about getting up in the clouds.
So it comes as little suprise that Wellington School pupil Lara Adkins was one of only two cadets at the school’ combined Cadet Force to be given a Contingent Commander’s Commendation this summer.
The award cited her “outstanding level of commitment, discipline, loyalty and effort in her second year”, including her ability to handle an AKA rifle, and her spotless appearance, as one of around 60 members of the Wellington School CCF.
Lara’s late grandmother, Captain Jackie Moggridge, had herself taken her first flying lesson when she was 15.
She was the first woman to perform a solo parachute jump in South Africa, and moved to England in 1938 to train for her Pilot’s Licence.
When the Second World War broke out, Jackie joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, ferrying aircraft from factory to the frontline.
She delivered more aircraft than any other man or woman, a feat for which she was awarded a King’s Commendation.
After settling in Taunton, Jackie took any jobs she could with commercial airlines and seaside tourist flights to stay in the air.
She was one of only five women to get full Wings from the RAF.
Lara, who turned 16 this week, told the County Gazette: “It was definitely my grandmother who inspired me.
“I’d always heard these stories about flying, and it all sounded really amazing. I really wanted to try it.”
And it’s clear she has her grandmother’s passion for airflight, having tried her hand at barrel rolls, loop-the-loops, gliding with the RAF.
She said: “You feel so free, because you’re not stuck to the ground. You can go anywhere you like, and you can see for miles, and look across everywhere, and say, I know that bit!”
She adds: “I would like to carry on with the RAF at some point, perhaps two years with them if I could get in, as hopefully I’m going off to art college.”
Jackie Moggridge’s memoir, ‘Spitfire Girl: My Life in the Sky’, is available from Brendon Books in Taunton’s Bath Place and online from Amazon from £7.50.