Honorary Air Commodore Visits Wittering

The Countess of Wessex visited Royal Air Force Wittering in her capacity as the Station’s Honorary Air Commodore.

The visit is the first since the Station received all its flying Squadrons and, in recognition, Her Royal Highness flew in a Grob Tutor aircraft, piloted by Squadron Leader Andy Paul, Officer Commanding 115 (R) Squadron.  The routine sortie took in Rutland Water, Oakham, Kendrew Barracks and Peterborough before landing safely at RAF Wittering some 40 minutes later.

No. 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron was next on the itinerary for The Countess. The Squadron has completed a Garden of Remembrance to honour the sacrifices made by personnel while on operations and Her  Royal Highness met with the families of SAC Chris Dunsmore, SAC Graham Livingstone and SAC Gary Thompson, who were killed while serving in Afghanistan. Jacqui Thompson, the widow of SAC Gary Thompson said: “Having the garden fills me with pride, it is so important to have a memorial garden, a place where people can remember Gary and Chris and Graham.”

After meeting with personnel from 504 Squadron and 85 Expeditionary Logistics Wing, Her Royal Highness travelled to the historic RAF Wittering Officers’ Mess for an honours and awards ceremony at which Service and Civilian personnel were recognised for exceptional and meritorious work.

Deputy Business Manager Darren Exton received a special commendation for his outstanding contributions to Royal Air Force Wittering over the last year. Darren, who was crucial in preparing the Station for the filmingof Mission: Impossible 5 in November 2014, said:  “The last 12 months have been very busy, but it’s also been a very productive year. It’s always nice to have your work recognised, but today’s visit and having the  Countess present my commendation made it so much more memorable.” Other recipients included Warrant Officer David Dundas of 504 Squadron who was presented with a Royal Warrant, and Warrant Officer Neil Paylor of the Station’s Personnel Management Squadron, who received his Meritorious Service Medal after 31 years of service.

Lunch was served by No 3 Mobile Catering Squadron in the grounds of the Officers’ Mess.

In 2013 Her Royal Highness officially opened the refurbished RAF Wittering Community Centre. The centre has continued to thrive, as The Countess discovered when she returned to meet the Mums and Tots group.