Twenty eight Royal Air Force (RAF) apprentices have been honoured with awards by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier.
The RAF provides paid training in specialisms ranging from communications, photography, catering, logistics through to engineering manufacture, human resources and flight operations. The very best of the RAF’s 2700 apprentices, along with their families were brought together for a celebration at the RAF Museum in Hendon. This comes hard on the heels of National Apprenticeship Week and the recognition in January of the RAF apprenticeship scheme as Macro Employer of the Year through the Open University Award. The backdrop was aviation technology through the last hundred years; the next part of the RAF story comes from those currently serving.
Senior Aircraftwoman (SAC) Amy Lupton from RAF Benson in Oxfordshire won the award for the photographic trade. She said: “It means a lot that your hard work is celebrated and it’s really important to recognise the history and what the air force has gone through. One hundred years is a big turning point and it’s special being here at the RAF Museum”. Her father Mark Lipton, said “This is another proud moment. We wouldn’t have missed it. The RAF Apprenticeship scheme has given her a career when I think she struggled to find one in art or photography. She’s taken this opportunity with both hands and has developed immensely.”
SAC Chloe Smith, from Marham in Norfolk has qualified as a Catering and Hospitality Specialist. She said: “My training has been really good; my instructor is the reason why I’m here today. I have been given opportunities I never thought I’d be able to achieve. I can’t thank all my colleagues enough.”
Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Joseph Harry was recognised for his apprenticeship in Warehousing and Storage. And he received an additional award from the Federation of Apprentice and Boy Entrant Associations. He said: “This has made me hone skills I didn’t think I had. It’s given me so many opportunities since joining whether sport, adventure training or going away on detachment. RAF 100 means a lot. Being part of the history is really special. I just want to keep enjoying it and make the most of the opportunities the RAF has offered me.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: “Apprentices have always taken a vital role in our service. Right back in 1920, the very early years of our service Lord Tenchard set up the three-year apprentice scheme. The apprentices are as vital to the RAF’s capability today as they have been throughout our 100 years of history.”
He added: “My advice would always be to set your aspirations high to look at how you can develop yourself and take opportunities and realise ambitions. I think young men and women can do that in the Royal Air Force. I can absolutely promise that it’s no ordinary job. The challenges and the opportunities are unique and we develop people and allow them to realise their aspirations in an extremely challenging but successful environment.”
Warrant Officer Stuart Crighton, responsible for delivering the apprenticeship scheme said: “This event celebrates the achievements of our young people who will take the Service into our second century in a fitting way”.