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April 2016 – RAF Halton Graduation

Nicola Williams Visit to RAF Halton

One of the most important parts of the Ombudsman’s job is meeting Service personnel to gain a better understanding of the issues facing them on a daily basis in their Service life, both good and bad. In her April blog, the Ombudsman recounts her recent experience of acting as the Reviewing Officer at an RAF graduation ceremony.

On 19 April, I had the honour of acting as the Reviewing Officer for the Recruit Graduation Parade of No. 567 MP16, Douglas Intake at RAF Halton. Although I am an experienced Ombudsman, I do not have military experience*. Therefore this was my first time attending a Service graduation ceremony and I found it to be a truly enjoyable experience.

The day got off to a shaky start with train delays causing me to worry that I may not arrive on time, or even at all! I am sure my worry paled in comparison to any family members who found themselves in the same situation – eager to see their loved ones and celebrate their success.  Thankfully I arrived in good time, and the delay meant that I was well rested for what transpired to be a long but wonderful day.

Learning about different aspects of Service life is an essential part of my job, and I was fascinated to learn about the training programme that the recruits had completed. Marching and drill lessons, adventure training activities, initial force protection training, all culminating in Exercise Blue Warrior – the recruits were truly tested over the 10 weeks of training and I was truly impressed by all they had achieved.

The parade itself, with the recruits turned out in smartly pressed uniforms and shoes polished to a mirror finish, was compelling. It was a tremendous privilege and a real pleasure, to see such a fine group of young people at the start of their Service careers; full of hope for what the future might bring. I hope that the words I spoke were fitting of all they have achieved so far and what they hope to achieve over the course of their careers.

The chance to speak in-depth with the graduates and their families after the ceremony was invaluable and their real and understandable pride was unmistakable. It was also extremely beneficial to have the opportunity to speak with both Service personnel and civilians who work closely with the RAF during the course of the ceremonial lunch.

I must give thanks to Air Vice-Marshal Turner, Station Commander Group Captain Burns and also Cpl Murray for the assistance they provided throughout the day. I thank the RAF for extending this opportunity to me and I hope that this will be the first of many graduation ceremonies I will attend over the course of my 5 year post.

Ombudsman Speech - RAF Halton (33 KB)

* It is a legal requirement that the person appointed to the post of Service Complaints Ombudsman has not been a member of the UK Armed Forces, whether as a regular or a reserve.