I’m writing Alex’s blog for her at her request because it’s an incredibly tough phase for Air Craftswoman Alex just now. She has completed Phase 1 of the basic training and for those of you who have been following her blog since she joined the RAF last year and then sustained a pelvic stress injury, she has now reached the week in the programme where last year she regrettably had to stop and go home to rest for a month on sick leave and then return to Halton for a rehabilitation programme. So this feels like a milestone for Alex and so far so good, all is going well aside from a few back aches which is no surprise given the level of physical activity they do.
She is now over 4 weeks into the course and had her first local leave weekend. It was Padre Ruth’s last Service at the RAF Halton church, so on Sunday we joined Alex at church on the base and were able to meet the Padre. Padres at Halton have a significant counselling and support role, and Padre Ruth has been a source of comfort and friendship for my daughter during some tough times when she has been feeling homesick or worried about anything. After church, we had a family lunch and a walk, and she said it was so nice to go out and be a ‘civvie’ for a few hours. We went to Wendover and spent time in a gallery called Aces High which specialises in Aviation prints and paintings. We missed an event with veterans of Bomber Command earlier in the day, but enjoyed looking at the pictures of Lancasters, Mosquitos, Spitfires etc.
Then it was back to base so Alex could get on with her daily ironing duties and prepare for the start of Phase 2 of the training where they learn about chemical, nuclear, radiation and biological warfare and how to protect themselves during such an attack. Part of this is to experience what it is like in a gas chamber, both with a respirator (gas mask) on and then taking it off for enough time to shout out their name, rank and number! Last time she did this she managed to blurt out everything before leaving the chamber relieved that it was all over. It’s not perhaps a typical thing for a 22-year-old to be doing on Valentine’s Day! As a proud mum, I am so inspired by her resilience in getting through these past 6 months where all of her career plans had to be put on hold and where an expected 12 weeks at RAF Halton will have turned into around 9 months. All the recruits have my respect and I wish them all the very best as they progress through this intensive training.
Director of Care