Thursday, 09 July 2020

RAF reservists called up to covid-19 testing team

PERSONNEL from RAF Benson have formed a covid-19 testing team.

Eight reservists from the 606 (Chiltern) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force have been called upon to become a mobile testing team.

This is in support of Operation Rescript, the military support to the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The team left RAF Benson to complete training with army colleagues from the 4th Battalion Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, alongside RAF Reserve colleagues from 4624 Squadron RAuxAF, based at RAF Brize Norton.

Following training on the task and the equipment they would be using, the team rehearsed numerous scenarios to ensure that they could provide the essential service, such as a testing unit at Reading Football Club.

They join other personnel from the squadron who have been supporting Operation Rescript in a variety of roles. Squadron Leader Andrew Bucknell, officer commanding 606 Squadron, said: “In total, the squadron has mobilised 25 personnel in support of Operation Rescript. Our personnel come from all regions in the UK and have a diverse range of skills.

“Our troops have been involved in varied tasks ranging from providing air liaison officers to guarding key installations.

“This task of providing mobile testing teams is certainly one none of our team expected to be doing when they joined up.

“We have engineers, drivers, suppliers and chefs among those that have been deployed as part of the testing team. I’m delighted that we are able to assist and that our personnel are living up to our squadron motto of being ‘steadfast in support’.”

After five years as an RAF Reserve, Senior Aircraftwoman Alice Noakes is proud to be called upon to support the country during the pandemic.

She said: “After several weeks of waiting and looking forward to getting involved, I am excited to finally get the call.

“This deployment is very different to my civilian job, where I am an administrator for an engineering company. It has been exciting having to adapt to the challenge, learn new skills and having to put them into practice straight away in order to fulfil my responsibilities.”

Flight Sergeant Andrew Fuller, who leads the 606 Squadron team, said he was proud of the attitude and flexibility that his personnel had shown, particularly being deployed at short notice.

He said: “The team has taken in a lot of information during some very intense training and has been very adaptable as plans were finalised.

“We have had to work long hours to get up to speed on the processes but everyone has taken everything in their stride.”

Meanwhile, more than 100 families at RAF Benson have received weekly activity packs to help keep children occupied during the coronavirus lockdown.

These are the result of a grant awarded by the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s welfare charity.

The fund has made £2,500 available to each RAF station to provide an activity and wellbeing pack for RAF children who will be missing out on its Airplay youth support sessions, which have been suspended.

The packs provided to families include items such as DIY bunting, a dreamcatcher kit, wind spinner toys and more.

Group Captain Adam Wardrope, station commander at RAF Benson, said: “There are now more than 100 households receiving a weekly delivery.

“For many families it is the highlight of the week, especially those whose loved ones are deployed in support of operations in the UK and overseas.”

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