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Air Vice-Marshal J A Gray CB CBE DFC GM underwent flying training at Cranwell in 1917, when the site was used as the Royal Naval Air Service Central Training Establishment.  On 1 April 1918 he was transferred to the RAF where he served for 36 years, including a tour as a flying instructor at Cranwell in 1935.  After a distinguished career he retired in 1954 and died in 1987. 

In his Will he bequeathed a share of his estate to the Royal Air Force College, and the legacy was used to set up a Trust Fund entitled ‘The AVM Gray Memorial Fund’.  The Fund supports projects that are concerned with “improving the efficiency of the RAF by encouraging the study of leadership”. 

The Trustees of the Award agreed that from 2105 it should be a University Air Squadron (UAS) competition.

AVM Gray Memorial Award: Text

The Award

The Award is divided into 2 categories:

  1. Presentation.   This category is an inter-squadron competition for a group presentation on a leadership topic chosen by the cadets themselves.  Following the inter - sqn selection process, those that make it to the final will present at the Annual Formal Inspection (AFI).

  2. Essay  The leadership essay is a voluntary competition open to all 2nd and 3rd  year students.  Entrants are to submit an essay of 2000 words on one of 5 chosen topics. The assessment criteria are strict.

 The winners are chosen by Commandant RAFC and OC 6 FTS

AVM Gray Memorial Award: Text


At the end of the AFI round, the team deemed to have delivered the best presentation will receive a prize of £400.  The writer of the best essay will receive £300 and have their name engraved on the AVM Gray Trophy and recorded the Honours Board in College Hall; there will also be a prize of £100 for the runner up. The winner and runner-up of the essay competition will also receive a suitably inscribed book, chosen from the Chief of the Air Staff’s Reading List .

All winners are invited to the Cranwellian Association Annual Reunion Dinner, at the Royal Air Force College, to receive their awards.

AVM Gray Memorial Award: Text


Regrettably COVID prevented  the Presentation element.

However, the Essay winner was Off Cdt Esther Smith from UGSUAS.

We were delighted to have Esther, and Barrie Mason (DepOC UGSUAS) as our  guests at the reunion dinner.

Esther received her award from AM Andy Turner ( DComCap)  and no doubt enjoyed  discussing the subject of her essay with him !!

The Essay subject was:

The 21st Century Space Race: Can the UK Keep Up?

AVM Gray Memorial Award: Text
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