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RAF Sportswomen Top of Their Game


Wales-based RAF servicewomen are competing at the top levels in a range of sports, either representing the Service, civilian teams and even their countries.

SAC Sian Williams, 26, serves as a Logistics Mover at MOD St Athan. For the majority of the time, however, she trains and plays for the senior women’s Welsh international rugby team and RAF Women’s Rugby. She has 25 caps for Wales and is currently training for Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017, a tournament she has fond memories of.

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“The highlight of my career so far has definitely been playing against New Zealand in the 2013 World Cup,” said Sian. “It was a privilege to represent Wales and play against the best.”

SAC Catherine Sharples, 43, is a reservist with Number 614 (County of Glamorgan) Squadron, where she serves as a photographer. She plays for Newport County’s women’s football team and is a regular goalscorer. She has played football for over twenty years and credits the RAF with helping to keep her fit enough to play alongside colleagues less than half her age. She said:

“One of the reasons I became a reservist is the military’s emphasis on fitness. I was already fit when I joined, scoring light blue on the fitness test, but over two years of service now see me regularly achieve dark blue scores, which has only helped my speed and endurance on the pitch.”


LAC Olivia Blok, 27, is a civil engineer in civilian life but serves in personnel support in the RAF Reserves. She has been a triathlon and duathlon competitor for the past four years and puts in between 10-15 hours a week training in swimming, cycling and running. She enjoys the emphasis that the RAF puts on fitness and competition and hopes to represent the Service in the near future.

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“That’s definitely something I’m working towards if the opportunity is there,” said Olivia. “I was honoured to represent the United Kingdom in my age group at the European Duathlon Championships in 2014 and it would be great to do so for the RAF or UK again.”

Finally, Kate Gale, 24, is a reservist soon to become a regular as she is about to start Initial Officer Training. She plays for Cardiff City women’s basketball and after seeing a poster for RAF ladies team, she signed up and hasn’t looked back. In the course of a year, she has made fast friends and has been selected to play for the RAF at the inter-services tournament in May.

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“I’ve always taken my fitness and sports seriously as a reservist,” said Kate. “But playing competitive basketball for the RAF has taken my motivation to another level. The training days can be long and intense but are all the more enjoyable for it, and in a funny way will help prepare me for officer training. I’m really looking forward to continuing RAF basketball as a regular.”

Images by SAC Cathy Sharples

© MOD Crown Copyright 2017

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HRH The Duchess of Cambridge Joins RAF Air Cadets on Camp

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge Joins RAF Air Cadets on Camp

The Duchess of Cambridge today (Feb 14th 2017) joined young air cadets at RAF Wittering taking part in their first camp.

As the Honorary Air Commandant of the RAF Air Cadets she attended Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing’s Skill Development Camp and met several cadets experiencing their first camp.

Cadets and RAF Air Cadet instructors led the Duchess through a range of activities including flying training on a simulator, leadership exercises and more.

The Duchess was also shown the Tutor aircraft which thousands of cadets use each year for air experience flights.

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Showing the Duchess around the aircraft was Cadet Sergeant Jordan Bertalaso, 17, of 1406 (Spalding) Squadron, a qualified aerospace instructor.

Cadet Sergeant Jordan Bertalaso said: “Flying is my favourite air cadet activity and it was an honour to show the Duchess the layout of the Tutor cockpit, particularly as the aircraft is used by cadets for air experience.

“It’s incredible to have such a high profile Royal as our Patron, especially as she has strong links to the Royal Air Force with her husband being a former pilot.”

Spalding air cadets Erin Hope, 14; Emily Empringham, 15, and Joshua Wait, 14 – also met the Duchess at the aircraft.

Later, HRH also took the controls of a flight simulator with help from Flight Lieutenant Michael Slater. She also joined in a leadership exercise demonstrating effective planning and communication skills.

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At the end of the visit, the Duchess was invited to join the cadets and volunteer staff for a camp photo and was presented with a limited edition RAF Air Cadet 75th anniversary print by Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty.

This is the third occasion that HRH the Duchess of Cambridge has met with cadets since HRH The Duke of Edinburgh handed patronage of the national youth organisation to her in December 2015.

Her prior engagements involving air cadets have included the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire in July 2016 and the launch of the RAF Air Cadet 75th anniversary celebrations in London in February 2016.

The event was held at RAF Wittering, Cambridgeshire, which is one of the oldest RAF bases and has played a key role in military operations and the development of air power since 1916.

Camps are an important part of the RAF Air Cadet experience and take place at RAF bases across the country and are centred around leadership, personal development, aerospace, music and more.

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Some senior cadets even take part in the International Air Cadet Exchange Programme which includes countries such as Hong Kong, Canada and Australia.

Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore McCafferty said: “It was a delight to see the Duchess again and to witness her engaging with our young cadets and adult volunteers in such a relaxed manner.

“Her personal support of the RAF Air Cadets is very much appreciated and I am sure those lucky enough to meet her today will keep those memories for a lifetime.”

RAF Wittering Station Commander, Group Captain Richard Pratley said: “It has been an honour to welcome HRH The Duchess of Cambridge to RAF Wittering to see some of the facilities we offer to cadets to help inspire the next generation.”

© MOD Crown Copyright 2017

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WAAF who stared into Hitler’s eyes dies

Former WAAF Patricia Clark, a Battle of Britain filter room plotter, who became a bestselling novelist, has died aged 95.

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Born Patricia Robins on February 1, 1921, she was the second of three daughter of novelist Denise Robins, known as ‘the Queen of Romance’. After going to school in Switzerland, where she learned French and how to ski, Patricia wanted to learn German and was sent, aged 16, in 1937 to study near Munich. She once found herself in a traffic jam a few feet away from Hitler who was in an open topped car. Nearly 80 years later she vividly remembered ‘meeting Hitler’s cold blue eyes.’

Returning to England she found a job on Women’s Illustrated magazine as a junior editor. As war loomed, she joined the RAF and after basic training was assigned to special duties, in the Filter Centre at 10 (Fighter) Group. Her job as a filterer was important, skilled work. The Filter Centre was a high pressure environment that demanded a great degree of skill and dexterity and close team cooperation.

Patricia proved to be a highly capable operator who was commissioned and made a Filterer. The Filterer’s job was to analyse the huge amount of conflicting information to decide on the most accurate position, vector, height and strength of detected aircraft in a very short time. She was further promoted to Filter Officer, acting as deputy to the Filter Centre Controller and with overall responsibility for all the filtered information which produced the recognised air picture.

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In 1944 Britain was the first nation ever attacked by ballistic missiles and Patricia took part in the pioneering work designed to locate the firing positions of V2 rockets so they could be attacked from the air. Her work was highly classified and she was sworn to secrecy about it for 30 years after the war ended. During breaks for bad weather in this top-secret war work, Patricia started writing romance stories for magazines, using the extra income she made from them as petrol money to get to NAAFI dances.

In1947, she met and married former RAF pilot Donald Clark. They divorced in 1976. Her writing career began in earnest after the war and, like her mother; Patricia became a prolific author of light romantic fiction. In the 1970s she started to write blockbuster historical romances using the pen name Claire Lorrimer. In later years she moved to new genres, including murder mysteries. In March last year, under her pen name, she was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award by the Romantic Novelists’ Association, after completing her 80th novel.

She is survived by her three children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

© MOD Crown Copyright 2016

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Personnel on Ice at RAF Championships

THE SERVICE’S stars on ice are doing battle for precious Inter-Service spots in La Plagne, France as the RAF Championships got under way.


The two-week camp, which culminates in the championships, is not for the faint-hearted, as the track is regarded as one of the toughest on the winter sports circuit, having been used for the 1992 Winter Olympics, with athletes reaching speeds of 90mph, with forces of up to six G testing all involved.

Team manager and reigning Inter-Services champion Flt Lt Gav Arnold said: “The championship race will see SAC Mark McQuitty of 99 Sqn as favourite following his excellent performances on the World Cup Circuit for Team GB.

“I will be challenging him along with GB hopeful Cpl Danny Burke, with the race determining selection for the Inter-Services Championships to be held in Norway in March where we will be defending our title against what is sure to be tough opposition from the Army.”

Cpl Ross Brown bobsleigh coach/ceputy team manager said: “The camp is proving to be a very demanding fortnight, which has pushed all 32 athletes beyond their limits on the second fastest track in Europe, reaching speeds in excess of 75mph whilst pulling up to 4.5g on a mile- ong track from a standing start.

“Bobsleigh athletes have been exposed to dealing with a wide variety of emotions, such as adrenaline, fear, nerves, excitement, physical pressures and much more, all within a controlled environment of this extreme winter ice sport. And this camp is proving no different.”

Anyone interested in next year’s luge novice training camp should contact team manager Flt Lt Gav Arnold on: 30Sqn-pilot27@mod.uk. or for bobsleigh: marksilva021@hotmail.com

© MOD Crown Copyright 2016

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RAF Apprenticeship Award

RAF trainers are celebrating being recognised as one of the top 100 employers of apprentices in Britain.

The Service, which currently has 2,700 personnel on its programmes, has provided apprenticeships since its creation in 1918 and in 2014 its scheme was graded ‘outstanding,’ in all areas by the education standards watch dog Ofsted.

Now the RAF has been included on the prestigious Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service.


Group Captain Stephen Dharamraj, Commandant of the Royal Air Force Central Training School, said: “Apprenticeships are an integral part of our training philosophy by which we ensure that our personnel are able to operate at or above that required by their counterparts in industry. This is essential for the Service to succeed wherever it may be called upon to operate.”

Editor: Simon Mander

© MOD Crown Copyright 2016

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