On 12 April, Urban Synergy were pleased to be invited to visit RAF Brize Norton in Oxford, the largest station in the Royal Air Force with approximately 5,800 service personnel stationed there.
The station is home to the RAF’s air transport and air to air refuelling fleet and the visit gave the charity the opportunity to see that in action.
After an introductory film on careers within the RAF with Squadron Leader Jacqueline Millard-Smith and colleagues the tour kicked off with an exciting tour of aircraft Atlas A400M which sat with other aircraft in the sprawling airfield. The invited groups, which included other charitable organisations and young people were able to explore the aircraft, which can hold both crew and a helicopter in its carrier, it’s loading areas as well as the cockpit. Staff shared details of their day to day duties and what a typical day might look like.
A delicious lunch in the Officer’s Mess, a well-appointed building close to the main runway, gave the group the opportunity to talk to a young person who is a trainee chef about life and training with the RAF. He emphasised the variety of career options available for young people and encouraged them to give it a try and undertake their own research to find what path might suit them.
After lunch a tour of the campus took in staff and family accommodation and sporting facilities bringing together the lifestyle of RAF service personnel, the facilities available to them and how they are looked after. Final stop was the control tower and a guide on operations there including use of radar for air control.
An opportunity to give feedback saw the group agree that it was useful to see first-hand the opportunities on offer to young people today and the possibilities that life in the services affords for those transitioning from education, including opportunities such as scholarships and well paid apprenticeship schemes in a range of technical skills and professions such as medicine and law which can be pursued in uniform. This along with training, sporting facilities and family life – which is well integrated into the life of RAF personnel – was well lauded amongst all attendees.
Our thanks to all the RAF Personnel that hosted our visit to Brize Norton. It was an inspirational and insightful visit to the station, meeting staff and learning so much more about the many development opportunities available to young people. We look forward to our continued partnership with the RAF.Leila Thomas, Urban Synergy Founder