It is true to say that Tuesday April 17th 2012 was one of the proudest days of my life. My daughter Alexandra, also known as Aircraftswoman Doyle, graduated from her basic training at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. We had hail, rain, wind and sun, and thankfully it remained dry for the parade itself! She was joined by around 60 other recruits graduating on this day and for those who have been following Alex’s blog, you will be aware that her basic training was far from straightforward.
What should have been a 9-week course, which started in June 2011 when she swore her Oath of Allegiance, turned out to take Alex 10 months to complete due to a serious pelvic stress fracture which meant that around 6 months were spent recovering and rehabilitating at Halton. There were additional setbacks and frustrations, but she has shown enormous determination and courage to stick at this, where many people may have found it all too difficult and discharged themselves from the Service.
The graduation parade was a truly wonderful event, with a fly past from an RAF Hawk and impressive marching and drill from all of the recruits graduating. Words cannot quite describe how we felt when we saw Alex in parade formation, dressed in her uniform, with a rifle on her shoulder marching proudly in front of the assembled crowds. A very special day, and all this has come as a result of her involvement at the Royal Star & Garter Home, initially as a work experience student from school, through to undertaking some administrative work and more latterly covering on reception and volunteering.
As proud parents we were joined by friends and colleagues from the Richmond Home and three nursing students with whom Alex began her basic training last year and who have since been undertaking their studies at Birmingham City University. They have stuck by Alex over this time, encouraging and writing to her so they were also delighted to see her finally reach this significant milestone.
The very next day after graduation Alex was up in Birmingham, settling into her room in halls of residence and meeting staff at the Defence School of Health Care Studies as she embarks on a 3-year BSc Nursing degree with the Royal Air Force. Due to the delays in completing her basic training, Alex is starting her nursing degree 6 months later than the other recruits she initially joined with, so in order to get her onto the programme she has been allowed to start with the next nursing student intake – with the Army! Service rivalry aside, Alex is now starting to get to know the Army nursing students with whom she will spend a lot of time over the next 3 years, though will of course remain firmly in the Royal Air Force and will continue to have Tri Service lectures.
Alex’s first lectures are on Monday morning following a CO Briefing, in full uniform again. I am happy to say that now she is definitely making progress and it’s ‘onwards and upwards’ from here on.
Director of Care