Local Face: Gary Holmes

  |  Published: May 1st 1997

Gary Holmes may be a "new face" in the SIF Shop on Camp but neither he nor the shop is new to Halton although it has now been painted a fresh new cream colour. The shop was featured in the November 1996 edition of Wend over News because it has a history of over 80 years service to local civilians and service personnel. Gary is now being featured because he is not only the manager of the shop but also a veteran of 3 tours of duty at RAF Halton.

Not all readers will be familiar with the initials S.I.F. These represent the Service Institute Fund which is a registered charity run for the benefit of the junior ranks (Corporal and below) in the Service. 70% of all profits from the shop will be used to fund amenities and sporting events for the junior ranks at RAF Halton, while the remaining 30% of profit will be used for projects on the Station which would be beneficial to all ranks.

While the Apprentices were at Halton for three year courses the local infrastructure supported this "long stay". Now the recruits who pass through Halton only stay 6 to 8 weeks. They are aged 16+ and often this is their first experience of living away from home so they need a different form of support.

Gary Holmes comes from an RAF background. He was recruited from his school in Liverpool in 1979 and always worked for RAP administration. While at Halton his duties involved looking after Foreign and Commonwealth students and also the Guardroom. Finally he was responsible for discipline, drill and ceremonials. He lives with his wife, two dogs and a cat, in Aylesbury. When his final tour of duty was coming to an end, he started looking for a retail business in the "area" including as far away as London. He is absolutely delighted that an opportunity has arisen so close to home.

Clearly a great number of Gary's customers will be based on the camp including the raw rookies and more permanent staff. The residents of Halton Village find the shop very handy and the Wendover to Tring road is so busy that there is an amazing amount of passing trade.

One classic area covered by SIF is the newsagent business. Newspapers are delivered all over the Married Quarters, in Halton Village and into Moor Park as well but not further down Tring Hill than the Veterinary Surgery because that is Wendover territory. Very soon, a National Lottery machine will be installed including scratch card options. For more information about either of these services, Gary can be contacted on 01296 696910.

One local need that he is satisfying very well is hunger. He has on sale filled fresh rolls, sandwiches, cakes and similar items supplied by CB & SM Stockford, better known to Wendover residents as The Bakers Shop, Back Street.

SIF is a general store with domestic items on the shelf. If you visit the shop and cannot find something, let Gary know because he will adapt the stock to local need. The SIF shop will also offer a range of RAF Benevolent Fund merchandise and Station souvenirs.

Another speciality is cards. There is a lovely selection of birthday and special occasion cards. The Halton Post Office next door means there is no excuse at all!

RAF Halton aficionados will know the work of Colin Sterio, a Flight Sergeant on the base. He paints local scenes such as Halton house or rustic flora and then makes them available as numbered limited edition prints which are then framed by Flight Sergeant Stu Robinson. These are available from the SIF shop along with some other rather lovely prints. Camp personnel fmd these wonderful souvenirs and they are another idea for a Wendover person to consider. So if you are passing, why not pop in?

Browse our Articles

Articles By Date
Search our Articles
Back to top