Rory Stewart joined representatives from Cumbria County Council and BT’s Connecting Cumbria programme at the local squadron headquarters of the Air Training Corps at Appleby Grammar School on Saturday, where faster internet speeds will help with the delivery of the air cadets’ online training programme. The local MP spent time with the cadets to discover how their communication and management system – BADER – provides a SharePoint facility to distribute and store the many documents required to disseminate information to almost 1,000 squadrons nationally. Cadets also take various tests online to confirm their progress through the training programme.

Appleby now has two fibre-enabled cabinets up and running, meaning 591 premises can currently benefit if they make the move onto a fibre-based internet service. A further eight fibre cabinets are due to be deployed in and around the town by summer 2015. The investment in connecting the town to the fibre network will also benefit other communities along the A66 corridor who can tap into the new fibre connection. These include Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Thore, Culgaith, Langwathby, Morland and Brough. Communities around Appleby including Colby, Brampton and Great Asby will also benefit from fibre for years to come after it is delivered in 2015.

Speaking at the event, Rory said: “We are the largest, most sparsely-populated constituency in Britain, and the fundamental barriers we face are of distance. This is what holds us back in terms of education, health and business. Broadband leaps those barriers and brings people closer together. I am seeing businesses completely transformed by broadband. I am seeing older people living isolated lives at home suddenly able to use connections to New Zealand and Australia, to speak with their families. I am seeing children taking lessons in Russian online. Broadband takes Cumbria from being an isolated place to one that can now connect with places like China and Russia.”

Rory thanked the young cadets for their service to the country, and addressed them as the citizens of the future, for whom broadband will bring enormous opportunities. He also thanked Connecting Cumbria and BT for their role in helping to make the lives of the next generation much better.

Councillor Libby Bateman said: “The battle for broadband in Cumbria began many years ago and when Rory became our MP in 2010 he made it his mission to get superfast broadband funding for Cumbria. It’s great to see homes and businesses across Cumbria beginning to be connected and enjoy the benefit of this investment from central Government. There are two cabinets fibre-enabled in Appleby, connecting over 500 homes, with a further five cabinets being upgraded later this year. It’s over to the residents now to make contact with their Internet Service Provider and order a superfast broadband package. There is often some confusion as people presume their broadband will go faster automatically, but sadly this isn’t the case, residents do need to sign up for a faster service. People should check out the Connecting Cumbria Website to find out if their property is connected to the superfast services.”

Lt Col Mike Gerrish, who is the civilian chairman of the 2192 Appleby Squadron ATC, said: “A fast and reliable broadband service is essential to our modern training programme. The staff and the 30 cadets at the Appleby Squadron are delighted that our use of the online systems will be enhanced by the availability of superfast broadband.”

Elsewhere in Eden, Connecting Cumbria is building on the work done since the county’s first fibre cabinet went live in the village of Yanwath in October 2013. BT’s engineers will be working to deliver fibre to areas including Orton, Pooley Bridge, Shap and Glenridding in 2015.

L-R Brendan Dick of BT, Rory Stewart MP and Councillor Libby Bateman with Appleby's Air Cadets

L-R Brendan Dick of BT, Rory Stewart MP and Councillor Libby Bateman with Appleby’s Air Cadets

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