SMS good news stories for Mainpoint

We have had some new people join the Station Management Squadron, and one of the areas we are responsible for is the accommodation. We had struggled with manning in this area; however, now we have Mr Clyde Booth in the Accommodation Cell, as the new Accommodation Manager. Clyde has made significant changes and continues to do an outstanding job.

He is being assisted at present by another new face, Ms Matilda Ruhle; she has been providing agency worker support to the Accommodation Cell since 25 Jun 15, whilst we undergo recruitment for a permanent E1.

Another area in the SMS arena is typing; Mrs Elaine Bird moved from working in the Accommodation Cell for the past two years, to working as the Station Typist/ Travel Cell Manager in Feb 15; she also received a Station Commander’s Good Show Award in July for the dedication she has shown to the Station. Elaine has worked tirelessly in the Accommodation Cell, often under great pressure and with very tight deadlines, particularly between the period of October 14 – April 15, when she ran the cell alone.

Most of you around the unit will know WO Fellows as covering for the SWO. WO Fellows had some good news this year as he was awarded with an AOC 22 (Trg) Gp Commendation, for his unwavering commitment to duty at RAF Halton. He covered the SWO’s role in 2013 for 7 months, then again in 2015 for a further two months whilst remaining responsible for his primary role as Station Catering Liaison Officer. Furthermore, WO Fellows sizeable contribution to the Station in his other guises has been to the good and benefit of both service and civilian personnel. As Development Officer for the Station Saddle Club, he spent many hours outside of his working day improving the look and feel of the facilities, including fixing a vast amount of fencing himself, repainting parts of the yard to provide much needed rejuvenation and general maintenance. As a trained instructor for ‘Spin’ sessions in the gym, WO Fellows has covered Station classes and also volunteers on a regular basis to usher for major running events; this year this has included road races in London and at Silverstone. Mr Fellows deployed OOA December 14 – April 15 as detachment WO at Al Minhad Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

The Station Support Services Liaison Team has worked continuously on the new contract re-let for 2017. Their work is fundamental to the quality of the services the Station will receive in the future. Their relationship with the onsite contractors remains positive and they have moved forward several business cases, including one to support a manpower uplift in MT, in order to monitor the Trimble Telematics system, fundamental to regulatory policy directed by AIR and for wider Road Safety.

2IC SMS, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Brooks, has been made OIC Road Safety Committee, holding the inaugural meeting in April 15, this is a key position, which has not existed for the last couple of years. The Road Safety Committee has been well attended by personnel throughout the Station.

SMS provided the Project Officer for the Command Circulation visit 2015, where Air Officer Commanding 22 (Training) Group, Air-Vice Marshal Turner, conducted his annual inspection of RAF Halton. Flt Lt Rosie Brooks covered the Station Commander’s intent and the visit content demonstrated the reputation and security elements of RAF Halton. The AOC was escorted throughout the day by airmen and women to the sections he was visiting, which included the Contact House, the Trinity Community Centre and Co-Responders before travelling to the airfield to see Exercise PURPLE GRIFFIN, a security demonstration organised by Sgt Russ Barber, SNCO MPGS. Here, the AOC saw the MPGS and RAFP Dog Handlers demonstrating their ability to work together in support of security. The AOC also got to see how the Quick Reaction Force and Remote Pilot Air System (Drone) capability could be coordinated to provide wider awareness for the RAFP on the ground and for use postincident. Before departing the Airfield, the AOC was treated to a field BBQ and traditional Gurkha curry, which he thoroughly enjoyed. FS Bellingham took this opportunity to give AVM Turner a tour of the Dog Kennels. Finally, he was escorted to HHOM to be the Guest of Honour for the Honours & Awards Ceremony, where he presented 10 awards to RAF Halton service and civilian personnel.

When we have events such as this, the engagement and media team are fully involved; Jane Reilly who is Media and Communications assistant, deals with engagement from the Station Commander’s dinner parties, to Graduation Parades, to stories in the local news. However, sometimes the smallest story can make a half page in the local press and a big story may be overlooked.

A recent story about a lady of 95 years who was an RAF mechanic 74 years ago was a big story in the local paper but the Gurkhas Nepal earthquake relief story only made a few lines.

When Bruce Dickinson, front man for ‘Iron Maiden’ landed his Fokker aircraft at the airfield after running short on fuel, a short story went out about him landing for a cup of tea and some fuel, good publicity for the Strasser Scheme, whereby an aircraft in trouble can land at any airfield and not be charged landing fees or for the petrol, all MOD airfields are signed up to the scheme. Within 24 hours this story had gone viral, it was covered in the New York News, papers in Japan, our Times, Telegraph, Mail and Express newspapers and music magazines around the world. Mr Dickinson was thrilled with the coverage with a new album coming out a week later.

Work in the MCO’s office is hugely diverse with people ringing up or emailing for information about a friend they had 50 years ago when in training here, called Steve or Donald, do I know him or where he is now?? We politely say we can’t help. At the other end of the scale is a royal visit by Camilla, our Honorary Air Commodore, who brought the world press with her, or Carol Vorderman, Honourary Group Captain of the Air Training Corps visiting a Graduation Parade. Our people are of course what it is all about and our regular Home Town Stories about recruits who receive a trophy at Graduation or personnel receiving Honours & Awards are very important. Roughly two thirds of our home town stories are printed in local papers, some get as far and wide as Ghana and Italy. Parents of trophy winners send us what they see which is used for recruitment purposes and civilian education visits.

RAF Halton also has a Social Media Facebook page on which, we continue to have a massive following.

All of our media releases are posted to Facebook and we try to put something new up every week. Splice the Mainbrace, our Naval personnel’s tot of rum ceremony on the announcement of the latest royal baby’s birth, and the Junior Ranks Flying Scholarship, where three personnel flew solo for the first time in a glider, were two of the latest stories to receive local papers and FB coverage.

So from this, you can see what a diverse range of activities SMS covers, in essence the glue that helps the station run.

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