Air Warfare Centre 20th Anniversary Celebrations

17-18 October 2013

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Established in October 1993 and jointly staffed by Royal Navy, Army, RAF and civilian personnel the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) at RAF Waddington recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary. To commemorate the 20th year of support to Operations by the Air Warfare Centre, personnel organised and participated in an afternoon of sports, a Dining-In Night and a Charity Fun Run.

Based in the Thomson Building at RAF Waddington, 11 other locations throughout the UK and 3 in the United States, the primary mission of the AWC is the provision of accurate, timely and contextual Integrated Mission Support to front line commanders and units.

Jointly staffed by Royal Navy, Army, RAF and civilian personnel its motto is

“ARMA JUDICARE CONSILIUM DARE”

– To test the weaponry and give advice.

On the 17th of October, joined by personnel from all of its sites, the AWC kicked off the celebrations with an afternoon of games and activities at the RAF Waddington station gymnasium. Commandant AWC, Air Commodore Bruce Hedley MBE MA RAF, fired the first arrow of the event that saw 7 teams compete in the contest that included a quiz, archery, 5 a side football, virtual bowling and more.

The archery, headed by the newly formed Waddington Archery Club run by Sgt Jason Moreton, was the first time many of the players had ever experienced the activity. After 15 minutes of expert tuition 6 players from each team shot 36 scoring arrows in a close run contest won by the “Sky Guardians” with a score of 298.

The 5 a side football competition, organised and run by PO Dave Eaglen and SAC Trev Foster, allowed the more energetic members of the AWC the opportunity to stretch their legs and compete in a league competition of over 14 matches. The quiz, written and delivered by WO Al Cooper and Sgt Stuart Douglas pitched the teams’ wits against each other in a battle of intellects and was won by the “Square Pair” led by Sgt Aaron McKay.

After a gruelling 4 hours of badminton, aerobics, football, archery, basketball, hockey and more, the “Sky Guardians” led by Sgt Robert Stobie from the Defence Electronic Warfare Centre had proven their mettle and won the first annual AWC games.

Thanks go to all that made the event a success. Special thanks go to the team captains, the marshals and to the RAF Waddington gymnasium staff, particularly FS Jim Dick, Cpl Gareth Evans, Cpl Lucy Jinks and Mrs Claire Wilson who supported the Project Officer with very welcome cups of tea throughout the afternoon.

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In keeping with the ethos of both the Centre and the planned celebrations, attendees at the Dining-in-Night were drawn from all areas of the AWC and included members of all three services, representation from across all ranks and across all industry partners. Members of the AWC Squadrons attended allowing a large number of Standards to be paraded at the Dinner. Invitations were also sent to former Commandants of the Centre resulting in no less than five joining Air Cdre Bruce Hedley on his top table. Air Officer Commanding 2 Group, AVM Reynolds and RAF Waddington’s Station Commander, Gp Capt Gillespie, were also VIP guests.

The Dinner commenced with pre-dinner drinks, allowing pan-AWC guests to meet each other informally. Air Cdre Hedley hosted a group photograph with the former Commandants to further record such a rare gathering. Guests were called into Dinner against the musical backdrop of the RAF Waddington Volunteer Band who continued to entertain throughout the function. Three vignettes on the history of the AWC were narrated by individuals who, again, presented the ‘all ranks’ nature of the evening.

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To ensure the event was undoubtedly AWC, bespoke items such as place mats and lead crystal decanters, all bearing the AWC badge, were produced for the occasion, further setting the scene.

During the speeches, Air Cdre Hedley recognised the leadership of the former Commandants but set the scene for the future of the Centre. He said,

“I am delighted to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Air Warfare Centre and recognise the outstanding effort of our people and their continued support to the warfighter. The Anniversary represents an opportunity to reflect, appreciate and have fun. I am immensely proud of the personnel in the Air Warfare Centre and the vital contribution they continue to make for Defence.”

Once the line of Standards were marched out, the top table retired to the Mess bar while Miss Vice distracted the remaining guests. Once her intended games were complete the ‘legs’ also moved to the bar to continue conversations and reflect on the Centre’s past achievements and heartily discussed its future.

Friday 18 October 2013 didn’t really dawn, it went from being dark to the thickest fog seen at RAF Waddington in recent times. Unperturbed by visibility of only 50 metres and in some cases jaded by their enjoyment of the excellent dinner the previous evening, over 100 runners (including a black Labrador) registered for the inaugural Air Warfare Centre Charity Fun Run. 

A four mile course had been planned that would take the runners around the Station and along the taxiway before finishing outside the Thomson Building. Runners emerged from the fog accompanied by distant supporting cheers from the marshals of

“the half way point is in sight… somewhere up ahead!”

Bacon butties and a cake sale provided fuel to the runners before and after the race which was started by the AWC Commandant.  The four mile course presented no challenge to the male and female winners, Cpls Matt Blunden & Lindsay Wellings respectively with Cpl Blunden finishing in under 21 minutes and Cpl Daz Sharpe snapping at his heels for second place. Hi-vis clad marshals around the course allayed the Project Officer’s fears that runners might be lost in the fog and once all runners had finished the Commandant presented trophies and medals to the winners before everybody dispersed to finish off the last of the cakes and bacon buttes. 

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The event would not have been possible without the support of MASS and QINETIC providing both financial support and manpower to help run the event alongside the volunteers from the recently formed Air Warfare Centre Charities Committee.  The event raised over £850 which will be split between the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Combat Stress.

All three Project Officers received Commandants Commendations for their work in organising the three key events which were appropriate celebrations for such an occasion and the AWC now look to the future.

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