Chair of the Executive Committee
Air Marshal Sir Christopher Coville KCB FRAeS
It is my pleasure to close the Centenary year with a feeling of success. The pandemic has frustrated many of our activities, not only the unveiling of the Trenchard Memorial Statue, but also our wish to engage more closely with the cadets themselves. At least there is some light at the end of a very long tunnel.
A New Trust for the RAF of the 21st Century.
Over the last month or so, there have been significant developments which are likely to influence the future of the CA, and I would like to brief you on the outcome so far, recognising that we are at the start of a long journey, with only a few details.
A short while ago, CAS wrote to the President, outlining the RAF's plans to develop an alumni organisation, leading to the formation of a trust, which could inter alia act as an umbrella organisation for all RAF-related charities, including our own. The initial plans envisaged a data base of all serving and retired officers, but with a longer-term vision to include all ranks. This data base would serve to maintain a record which could be used to address manning shortfalls, recall of reservists and so on, with the trust element evolving in time in line with present and future needs. CAS was keen to involve us in the gestation and development of this vision, and we saw an opportunity to tap into the data base and perhaps the trust to secure the support and resources we have long argued were essential for CA to flourish. The President, Chris Saunby and I attended a virtual meeting with AMs Andy Turner and Gerry Mayhew, to gain more insight into the proposals and thus to decide whether a partnership in this endeavour would be in our interests.
After some preparatory ground work, the President and I agreed that our approach should be supportive, but cautious, and that we should aim for the following required outcomes:
- A recognition of the achievements, earlier proposals and potential value of the CA; frustrated by lack of service support.
- The flexibility for the membership to be able to decide the nature and extent of our immersion into the putative trust.
- A partnership based on respect for our contribution and potential.
- A transition period before any affiliation with the trust element of the vision.
- A joint working group with full CA representation and involvement.
I need hardly say that much work lies ahead to clarify and scope the RAF's plans, but we are encouraged by the determination of the RAF leadership to address our past concerns, and to engage us fully in the evolution of what could, for us, provide the people and materiel resources we have long recognised as essential to deliver the President's vision for the CA. AVM Gavin Mackay has kindly agreed to lead our team in the working group; he will be assisted by Chris Saunby and others as required.
A Virtual Library – A Legacy to Mark Our Centenary Year
In addition to the Trenchard Memorial Statue, we are supporting the launch of an exciting new project, a Virtual Library marking our Centenary Year.
You will be aware that we rescheduled our Reunion and formal unveiling of the Trenchard statue for 26 June 2021. Unfortunately, that date has now been declared as Armed Forces day, which will significantly impact on Cranwell, as well as external assets essential to its success. The Commandant is working hard to find a solution, but it will probably be the New Year before the throughput of cadets is clarified, and a window with accommodation available can be confirmed. We will advise you asap.
In the meantime, have a very happy and safe New Year.