Hi there, it’s Alex again, from RAF Halton.
I’m finding it hard to believe, but I have been here three weeks already and passed the first two weeks which were ‘pre-conditioning training’ as the female recruits completed this before the male recruits started last week. I feel it is going really well and despite some early ‘wobbles’ and continuing homesickness, I realise more fully what a remarkable experience this actually is.
Now that the male and female recruits have joined together as one ‘flight’ it feels that we are really working in earnest learning about what the RAF expects from us, such as the four personal qualities of Respect, Integrity, Service before Self, and Excellence – which RAF personnel should aim to embody and perform all their duties within. These four core values are rigorously taught, enforced and revised at every opportunity with Recruit Training. It reminds me of the Star Qualities and Star Values at The Royal Star & Garter Homes so I am already familiar with having professional principles to guide me through the actions I take.
It is fair to say that the hours are very long each day but there is a definite sense of achievement by the time you’re ready for bed. We all passed the swimming test on Monday morning which involved swimming a whole circumference of the pool in the CS95 uniform (that’s the green uniform). This didn’t include wearing our boots I’m relieved to report! I’m not a strong swimmer but got there in the end! We also undertook a ‘steady state run’, which felt more like a sprint at times! Physical fitness and team building continue to be key features of the course to build strength and endurance and to help recruits quickly develop a trusting bond, and most likely some lifelong friendships.
Speaking of boots… they are not getting any more comfortable yet; blisters are inevitable it seems but we are all coping with the discomfort. Keeping them spotless is a good diversion and I am sure, eventually, they will mould to the shape of my feet, a little at least!
I am really enjoying the ‘drill’ lessons and when I get a chance to go home and visit The Royal Star & Garter I will enjoy chatting to some of the residents who were telling me about how and when to salute officers. It feels so fun and I really experience a sense of pride when the whole flight is working in unison with the drill (although some of the boys are still struggling with their lefts and rights… I’m not joking!)
We have also had classes to learn about rank structures, paying compliments, and fire safety (for which there was an interactive demo using fire extinguishers)
The staff are fun but tough and they are surprised every evening by the amount of mail we receive! I have had a few letters from my Grandmother, Daphne Conway who is a resident in the Richmond Home. It’s lovely to receive them as she is so supportive of what I am doing and described me as ‘plucky’ which is a delightfully old fashioned word! She sends me little updates on what she is doing and about the Home. She has even said she will write a blog for me, so watch this space!
We would love to hear from anyone with advice or comments and please do keep supporting the wonderful work carried out by The Royal Star & Garter Homes!
Best wishes, AC Doyle