Station Commander’s Foreword

Chris JonesI hope that you are reading this edition of Insight having already enjoyed your summer leave or with some holiday time still to come.

Either way, after the busiest six months at Waddington for many years, I hope that everyone has the opportunity – you deserve it! ELLAMY, on top of HERRICK and in addition to our continued support to operations in places like the Falkland Islands, has kept the Station working round the clock and I am so proud of the way that everyone has coped with the demands of sustaining the deployment of all our squadrons and around a quarter of our uniformed personnel.

Getting away on leave or making time for duties away from direct support to operations is never easy, particularly with the extra burden it places on colleagues who are already working at full capacity. The pace of work at the moment has stretched everyone across the Station – Service, Civilians and Contractors – and the most frequently asked questions over the last couple of months have been ‘are we doing too much?’ and ‘is there anything we can stop doing to make things easier?’. The Station Execs have thought long and hard about this and done all they can to balance the essential tasks that the Station has to perform (preparing, deploying and supporting people and equipment on Operations) with those tasks that support the Station’s broader roles (VIP visits, Armed Forces Day, Nimrod R1 retirement and Air Show). Both aspects of our work are tremendously important and interconnected and I am delighted the results of the Station’s superb efforts are reflected in the enthusiastic reporting in Insight across a full range of operational and engagement activities.

Our Armed Forces Day parade in Lincoln really caught the attention of the public and allowed them to say thank you for what we are doing on Operations. The variety of ranks, trades and uniforms on show demonstrated the breadth of our contribution and I was so pleased that the Mayor and our MP were able to present a couple of Operational Service Medals to RAF Waddington personnel on the High Street of Lincoln on a busy Saturday morning – a real vote of public support and thank you to those that volunteered to parade. In a similar way, the retirement celebration of the Nimrod R1 allowed us to very professionally bid farewell to an aircraft that has made a huge difference to Operations around the word during 37 years of Service. The presence of so many veterans, families, ex-Squadron members and the media connected the end of an era with a glorious past and a glimpse of the future in a truly magnificent and perfectly executed parade, fly past and reception. Well done to 51 Squadron, and our catering staff in particular for a superb event. Please remember that 51 Squadron has not disbanded. We may have retired the Nimrod R1 but Squadron personnel are already training and deploying with the United States Air Force on the replacement Rivet Joint aircraft that we will see at Waddington in a little over 2 years‘ time.

Finally, the Airshow. The enormous amount of work that goes on throughout the year for the Airshow is seen by many as our biggest distraction. But the event itself is the RAF’s single biggest opportunity to bring the public onto a front line Station and show them how important air forces and air power are to current operations and how much more the RAF does with the community, veterans, youth, and charitable causes. The extent of our contribution and interaction is staggering and encapsulated in a weekend that involves ‘showing off’ to around 145,000 members of the general public. Most of them leave the Airshow with a hugely positive view of the RAF and RAF Waddington, all of them get to see just how professional, dedicated and enthusiastic everyone on the Station is – despite our being busier than ever before.
So thank you to everyone for your continued hard work and thank you for the part you are playing in supporting an extraordinarily busy period of operations. Most importantly, thank you for doing all of that at the same time as helping to raise the profile of the RAF, getting the public onside with all we do and demonstrating your professionalism and commitment to the widest possible audience. No Station commander could ask for anymore.