RAF Halton Annual Reception

  |  Published: Sep 15th 2017

The Annual Formal Reception and Sunset Ceremony has taken place at RAF Halton’s Officers’ Mess. The weather was warm, making the perfect climate for the outside elements of the event, resulting in an extremely memorable and spectacular occasion. 

The special guests were the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and his wife, Bobbie, who were welcomed by the Station Commander, Group Captain James Brayshaw.

Local Dignitaries including Mayors and Chief Executives of the County, business people and neighbours, local emergency services and school teachers made up the rest of the guests.

After a warm welcome on arrival by hosting Station Personnel, the guests were shown to their tables where they enjoyed light refreshments and canapes, with music by the Halton Band Saxaphone Quartet.  The evening culminated with the guests invited out on to the patio for a Sunset Ceremony with Halton Pipes and Drums, and a Bugler sounding the Last Post as the Ensign was brought down.  The Guard of Honour was provided by Initial Force Protection Flight staff, and the fly past was by a Puma from 28 Squadron, RAF Benson

The annual event is an excellent opportunity for the Station to thank all the key people from across the wider community for their continued support and for enabling RAF Halton to carry out its important role of training for Defence.

Group Captian Brayshaw addressed the room, saying: “Today is about recognising the unique and very special relationship that exists between Royal Air Force Halton, its people and our local community.  On a variety of fronts we receive remarkable support from you.”  He went on to thank all the people involved in making the evening a success, and continued, praising: “The raft of support staffs who have worked in the background, including this evening’s Honour Guard comprising of RAF Regiment’s finest.  From 1 Sep a trade now open to females thus for the first time all RAF roles are open to everyone regardless of gender.

“Whilst this is the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, with the Royal Air Force continuing its mission to keep Britain safe and provide security at home and abroad.  Next year will see celebrations marking the Royal Air Force’s 100th birthday as the oldest independent air force in the world and one that continues to grow in capability and people.

“Halton of course plays its part in this and as well as being the gateway to the Air Force for approximately 2,000 regular recruits each year and hundreds of reservists, we also provide management, command and leadership training for all airwomen and airmen on promotion at each rank from Corporal to Warrant Officer. Moreover, we train personnel from all three Services for specific specialist Defence roles wherever and whenever they are needed.  What this means for us is that we have over 1000 trainees or recruits at RAF Halton on any given day.

“As with everything it is team, be they Uniformed Regular, Reservists, Civil Service or Contractor, who make things work and I am rightly proud of the Station and its people who work tirelessly to ensure we succeed.  

I have 47 individuals who have received New Year or Queen’s Birthday honours and awards in the last year for operational or meritorious service.  Their quality shines out in all they do. They and my other brilliant individuals have enabled us to deliver an overall training pass rate of 95% for our recruits – and created an environment where the Station continues to support a number of lodger units, from home to 15 RAF sports, to the central training school to logistics specialist training Wing and another 17 units who will have to forgive me for not citing them.

“But not all my people are here and I should reflect that I have personnel deployed on operations to the South Atlantic, Cyprus, Al Udied, Minhad, Afghanistan, Romania and Bahrain.  However, their families remain here and that is why links to the community and the support therein provided is so crucial to me. 

With this in mind I would draw attention to a few areas where my motivated and enthusiastic personnel have been offering something back into our community

“For instance, the Halton Co-Responders now have 2x response vehicles supporting the Ambulance Service and providing vital emergency medical care to the community.  Last month the Halton Aero Club hosted a Young Flyers event – and flew 107, 8 to 18yr olds from local schools. In January a young 14 year old from Weston Turville, incredibly, became the youngest person to fly solo in a glider at RAF Halton in our 102 year flying history.

“Halton Station personnel have raised thousands of pounds for a variety of charities, beyond these financial aspects I have volunteers supporting and giving up time to help numerous local organisations. On top of that my Service personnel awaiting further training have, over the last year, undertaken over 20 local community projects and activities. Including helping run this year’s 40th Vale of Aylesbury Horse Ride through my Station… and it is quite surprising what 400+ horses are capable depositing.

“We have also supported and hosted local college competitions, such as the Mark Webber challenge and our amazing Cool Aeronautics programme has seen hundreds of young children introduced to aerospace engineering and aviation. 

“As you may know Royal Air Force Halton is due to close in 2022; however, our Defence training task will be sustained to the end and the station will continue to be community facing for as long as we are here.  We are also working across community stakeholders to better understand what the future holds for the Halton estate and the legacy we leave behind.  Of note, the recent replacement of our Royal Standard by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, resulted in our retiring Queens Royal Colour being rightly laid to rest in Halton Parish Church.

“For now, we are hugely grateful for your support and hope that we remain fully integrated in the community, this will be particularly important over the coming years. So, thank you for coming and for all that you have done for us and continue to do for us. 

Per ardua ad astra


Pilot Officer R A Herod

All photos Crown copyright
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