“It really is true: hindsight is a wonderful thing; and foresight is nigh on impossible.

So, to demonstrate that I’m brilliant at the former and still possess the ability regularly to be surprised, a re‑cap: it’s still raining, we can (finally) use hosepipes to siphon-off the flood waters, the weather forecasters got it right again, and Families’ Day was washed-out. The one bit of foresight that went well was my forecast that a ‘washed-out’ Families’ Day would not be a ‘wash out’; the excellent decision by the team to move the vast majority of the attractions into 3 Hangar was absolutely inspired and, from what I saw at least, a good time was had by all. Well done to Sqn Ldr Neil Baldwin, his deputy Flt Lt Sam Vincent, and the entire team for their outstanding efforts.
I also got the (easy) predictions connected with HM the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee right. Despite being very wet (there’s a theme developing here..!), the main events all seemed to go very well. In particular, we fully supported the Windsor Muster (where the RAF “stole the show”), and I was immensely proud to see the excellent contribution made by Wittering personnel to the Burghley Picnic. For those of you who attended this once-in-a-lifetime event, I hope you enjoyed it. I was similarly honoured to be able to host our Honorary Air Commodore, the Countess of Wessex at the Royal HACs’ Lunch in the RAF Club in London. It is clear from her conversation with other guests at the table that HRH takes a significant interest in us and that she is extremely proud of her association with our Station. This shone through during her visit on (another wet) day at the beginning of July. It was obvious to me, that she really enjoys meeting people – particularly children. Notable highlights of the day, alongside the 3 Squadron RAF Regt Homecoming Parade, was seeing the Countess chatting to the families at lunch, and clearly enjoying her visit to Wittering Primary School. Again, very well done to all those concerned, notably Sqn Ldr Ian Marshall, who was an outstanding Project Officer.
Apparently the Olympics happened this summer. It wasn’t just me that this crept up on, though – apparently G4S were also taken by surprise, and there was a slight short-fall in the contracted security guard force. So, I know that this will, as predicted, have meant that an ever growing number of Wittering personnel will now have been involved with the Games. Whilst on one hand, the increased opportunities to be involved might have been welcome for some, I readily realise that – once again – it was the families who suffered, particularly when the notice given was very short and/or the period of deployment was unexpectedly increased to incorporate the Paralympics. Of course, I recognise just how important this work was, and that each and every one of you will have done a really good job, and so enhanced the reputation of our Service, but time away from families and friends is never welcome.
But will it end there? Well, to return to my theme (no, not the wet weather one), of course no one can really be sure. Nevertheless, with Operation DENY SUMMER firmly behind us, I would invite you all to continue to read the newspapers and, having done so, to retain your flexibility, agility, and adaptability and to at least acknowledge that Op DENY CHRISTMAS could, in theory at least, be just round the corner. But maybe it will, at least, be dry by then.”

Group Captain Richard Hill


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