Hidden Halton – Burnett Gym
RAF Halton Building Number 366, standing imposing at the bottom of the hill below RTS and by Station MT, was opened in 1935. It is named after, and was opened by, AVM Sir Charles Stuart Burnett KCB CBE DSO, who had returned to the UK just the year before having spent 2 years as AOC Iraq Command. After 57 years of service the building was extensively renovated in 1992 to become what you see today.
The striking and unmistakably military appearance of the Gym was clearly appreciated by the makers of the 2019 Film ‘Military Wives’, who featured it throughout the film. Starring Oscar Nominated and BAFTA winning actress Dame Kristin Scott Thomas and BAFTA Nominee Sharon Horgan, it was a privilege for the Gym Staff at the time to see and meet the stars who entered the Gym throughout filming.
Over the 86 years of its existence the Gym’s walls have witnessed countless sporting competitions, ranging from the pinnacle of sporting ability in the Tri-service population, to memorable CO’s Cup events such as ‘Human Table Football’ as well as many miles of ‘Beep Tests’!
It is rumoured when alone in the building at night, building ghosts repeat the haunting words, ‘The test starts in fifteen seconds.’
The Burnett Gym is one of 3 Station Gym facilities and is the home of the Stn Gym Staff. It is unusual amongst other RAF Gyms in that, in 2014, Regular RAF PTIs made way and were replaced by a blend of FTRS PTI and Babcock positions. Today the Gym is Staffed by one FTRS RAF PTI (Sgt Finlay Blyth) and two Babcock PTs (Mrs Claire Pearce and Mr Mike Cattermole), who are supported by a Babcock Admin Assistant (Ms Finlay Lennard).
As with all sections, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Burnett Gym Staff into new ways of working. Fitness Classes, COs Cup and the usual Fitness Testing have all been postponed. Our delivery has moved online, with live classes delivered each lunchtime and two available evening classes over Zoom, plus 1-1 consultations available to book! The latest initiative is ‘A Fresh Start, Train Smart’, a 12-week Health and Well-Being programme created by Sgt Dale Wallace, ACS, utilising the latest technology, including every participant being loaned a ‘MyZone’ belt to help log progress and reach their individual goals.
As soon as measures allow, socially distanced training in the previously popular “Burnett Boxes” will return, as will monthly socially-distanced section sports events!
To better communicate the latest PEd information the Gym has launched a Defence Connect page that Station Personnel can access from their mobile phones. All of the information for these initiatives can be found on Station Announcements or by contacting the Burnett Gym on extension 6612 or HAL-BurnettGym@mod. gov.uk