Kent Challenger Games 2017

Over 500 young people from over 50 primary and secondary schools in Kent converged at the Julie Rose Stadium in Ashford, Kent recently for the Kent Challenger Games 2017.


The activities included: command tasks, stretcher racing, boccia handball, slalom run, soft javelin and a long jump. The stadium was buzzing with the Royal Gurkha Rifles Band opening the event, along with cheerleaders and a choir to help make the day truly special and memorable for everyone present.

The event was the brainchild of the Games Champion, Mayor of Ashford Winston Michael who was in attendance with other local VIPs, he said:

“Today has been a dream come true, some of these young people won’t have had the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities or sports at their schools, today really has shown what they are capable of, in a challenging but safe environment”.

The High Sheriff of Kent, George Jessel opened the event, he commented:

“This has been an excellent event for children of all abilities to participate in sport with a military flair, it’s been a fantastic day and we must thank all of the volunteers from Challenger Troop and for the sponsors for their support”.

Samantha Twyman (who is a Lt for the Kent Army Cadets) was in attendance with pupils from the North School, she said:

“The Kent Challenger Games was a great opportunity for our students to get involved in a range of activities that they would not usually access at school. They went back to school buzzing; not winning did not make any difference; they had so much fun taking part. A fantastic experience for so many young people from so many different backgrounds”.

One of the parents Emma Castle asked her daughter what she thought about the event:

“Amy has learning difficulties I had to prompt her a little but this is what she had to say, it was a good day, I really enjoyed it and it was really nice mixing with other schools, I liked doing the javelin throwing.”

Major Simon Dean, OBE, founder of Challenger Troop ensured the safe and smooth running of the activities on the day with his dedicated team.

“Today has been a team effort, it has been fantastic to see it all come together with so much support from the local community. It was great to see the young people getting stuck in and challenging themselves with unfamiliar activities – there was a real buzz and the feedback has been excellent”.

The games were kindly supported by: Kent County Council, Lawson, Tesco, Ashford Designer Outlet, The Polebrook Fund, Kent Community Foundation, Ashford Borough Council and Challenger Troop.

There was also a re-signing of the Armed Forces Covenant with Lieutenant Colonel Andy Betts from 3PWRR present to cement community and military relations. The Army and Air Cadets along with veterans and the REME all had stands at the event to support community relations.

Here’s some more comments from the schools:

Dean Hawkins, Wittersham Primary School;

“Today has been inspiring, there was a great atmosphere and the kids really enjoyed mixing with the military personnel.”

Oliver Quiddinton from Ham Street Primary said;

“This was a great day and really well organised, it was enjoyed by all.”


4624 Squadron Families’ Day – A Truly Reservist Occasion

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After months of planning by a small team our Families’ Day went ahead in glorious sunshine, despite the possibility of the day becoming a mini Glastonbury due to the week-long rain and wind.  Over 320 serving squadron personnel, their families, friends and 4624 Squadron Association members gathered to make the day truly memorable.

Following the opening address by the Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Bev Peart, the annual Medals and Squadron Awards ceremony began, this year held on Squadron lines in front of a large and appreciative audience.  The Presenting Officer was the Squadron’s Honorary Air Commodore, Air Marshal Philip Sturley CB MBE FRAeS CCMI RAF (Rtd) who graciously presented firstly the Volunteer Reserve Service Medals (VRSM) and Clasp before moving onto the Squadron awards.  These awards take various forms from HAC’s Certificates through to the Commanding Officer’s Trophy, and ultimately, the highly coveted Honorary Air Commodore’s Trophy awarded this year to SAC Pauline Griffiths-Jeans.

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For the first time in the Squadron’s history, the opportunity was given to families and friends to experience military flights.  OC 622 Sqn, Sqn Ldr Roisin O’Brien, originally offered the squadron a couple of C130 Hercules flights – brilliant we thought.  A week before the event, she also offered an A400M!  This was quite unprecedented and music to our ears and we are so appreciative of the support and personal assistance she gave us.  Ultimately 3 x C130 and 2 x A400M flights flew, taking a total of 209 passengers on the trip of a lifetime.  Passengers were given full access to the flight deck in-flight and the crews were fantastic, especially towards the more nervous passengers.  Families were even treated to flying with the ramp open, a little daunting for some at first, but it offered fantastic views of the local area and drew jealous comments from squadron members yet to experience this!

Passengers were processed solely by squadron personnel; an opportunity for the Operational Flights to showcase the Airport of Embarkation (APOE) element of their Logistics (Movements) role.  The ATSy role was carried out by corporals from No.3 (RAuxAF) Tactical Police Squadron from RAF Honington.  Passengers were scanned, bags checked and given the security brief following which they boarded the coach to their allocated aircraft.  This was the closest any family member will get to going through the same process squadron personnel undertake when deploying overseas on operations.

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There were plenty of activities on offer; around the Squadron the Operational Flights hosted their own activity areas including an auction and tombola arranged by A Flight.  It was so popular that they quickly ran out of tickets to sell!  Proceeds went to one of the Squadron’s chosen charities – Prospect Hospice in Swindon – raising £300 for this very worthwhile cause.  The only dedicated end of life care provider in the Swindon, Marlborough and north east Wiltshire area, it is funded through voluntary donations.  “The £300 could pay for five families to be fully supported by our Family Support team” said their Events and Community manager Genevieve Arney.

Cadets from 2120 (Witney) Air Training Corps Squadron kindly supported the event with their flight simulator which was a fantastic opportunity for all ages to test their skills.  The Regiment Section brought out all their big guns (literally) with a vast array of weapons on display; for the younger members the bouncy castle and goodie bags generously donated by the RAF Families Federation also proved very popular.

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Since the Families’ Day we have received many letters and messages of thanks.  Flt Lt Mike Caffrey, OC 2120 (Witney) ATC Sqn summed it up “I appreciate that seats were limited and it was an incredible act of generosity on the part of your Squadron to include my Cadets and Staff …. In my 17 year military and military reserve career, I have not been to a families’ day as well organised as yours”.  This event did not happen by chance, an enormous amount of effort was put into the day by so many individuals, both within and outside RAF Brize Norton.  We are extremely grateful to all those who gave their time to make this the truly amazing day that it was; it is going to be a very hard act to follow! 

Reserves Day Reception

Three serving members of 4624 (County of Oxford) Movements Squadron joined 150 reservists and their employers at this year’s Reserves Day reception held in the House of Commons on 21 Jun 17.  Hosted by Sir Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, it recognised the valuable contribution reservists and employers make to the defence of the nation and it was also an opportunity for reservists across all three services to share experiences.

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One of those attending was SAC Pauline Griffiths-Jeans, a member of the Contract Monitoring Team at RAF Brize Norton who was accompanied by her line manager FS Neil Baker.  He was impressed with both the calibre of reservists and support shown by employers.  “As a representative of the full time military it was fascinating to see the diversity and quality of individuals who are employed in the reservist cadre. On speaking with the civilian employers present the military skill-set gained through reserve service offers benefits that are very much in demand. It was clear from the varied conversations I had during the reception that there was a very welcome and positive drive to capitalise on this skill-set”.

SAC Shelley Terrell attended the reception with Mr Jim Hartshorne, VP of DHL Operations for Home and Specialist Retail.  “It was a chance for us to discuss what DHL offers in support of Reservists and opportunities for full time service leavers.  Without the support of DHL I would not have been able to mobilise to RAF Akrotiri in May 16”.

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Making up ‘Team 4624’ was Sgt Andy Franklin, SNCO D Flight, who has responsibility for the administration, training and development of 25 junior ranks on one of the four Operational Flights on 4624 Squadron.  “Outside the RAF Reserves I am a Quality Auditor with the Ordnance Survey, the UK’s national mapping agency.  I have responsibility for checking the quality and accuracy of geographical information and datasets that make up the national mapping database”.  The event was, he said, “.. an opportunity for MPs to pay tribute to the valuable and much relied on service provided by the Reserve forces and a verbal thank you for the companies and managers who allow their employees to embark on this challenging adventure.  It was a good opportunity to meet other reserve force members from all three services and relate to their experiences…”

Although the event was held on one of the hottest days of the year, and despite being dressed in their No.1 uniform, ‘Team 4624’ certainly maintained their cool and clearly made the most of the tea and cake on offer!

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SAC Kirsten Tulloch (52) and her global travels as a Reservist Mover have inspired her son to join the Royal Air Force.

Kirsten became a reservist in 2014 after talking with RAF Reservist Recruiters at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). She thought she was too old to join, but the Recruitment Team encouraged her to apply and within 9 months she had joined 4624 Movements Squadron at RAF Brize Norton.

Since then her role has enabled her to travel to the United States, the Middle East, Belize, Cyprus and Africa. As a Mover, this involves the specialist movement of personnel and equipment which will be used on operations or exercises. Kirsten has logged many hours in the back of the RAF’s transport workhorse – the C17 Globemaster.

“There is always the opportunity to get involved in so many interesting and exciting activities that I would never normally get the chance to do,” she said.

Kirsten was recently promoted as a senior manager for IBM within process transformation. IBM are very supportive of her reserve work.

“My reserve role is so different to what I do at work,” she said. “IBM love the fact that I am a reservist and do provide two weeks’ additional paid leave to undertake reservist work”.

Kirsten feel that the skills and experience she has gained as a reservist have been useful in her civilian role.

“I am more confident and I think that is part of the reason I was offered promotion,” she said.

Her enthusiasm has rubbed off on John, one of her twin sons. In February 2017, John graduated from Phase 1 training at RAF Halton and he is now in Phase 2 training to become an RAF Chef.

She said, “It was such a pleasure to see my kids motivated by what I am doing. I was lucky enough to attend John’s graduation, where we were both in uniform. That was unforgettable.”


If you are interested in learning more about 4624 Movements Sqn or other RAF Reserve opportunities, please ring the Recruiters on 01993 897712 or email

RAF Reservist moves to marry partner

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Cpl Craig Elsey (44), a Reservist Mover with 4624 Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton is getting married soon – and he’s got his Reserve Service to thank!

Over the past six years as a Reservist, Craig has served around the world in his role as a Mover. This trade involves the safe and secure movement of people, cargo and equipment anywhere it is needed at any time.

He has recently been promoted to acting Corporal in his squadron. This was the moment where Gemma, his partner, reminded him of his promise.

“I had always told Gemma I wouldn’t propose until I had Corporal stripes on,” he said. “As soon as I got them she said, ‘Right then…it’s time’.” The couple plan to marry in 2018.

In 2014 Craig was deployed for three months to Camp Bastion as part of Operation Herrick and he has been deployed to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus as part of Operation Shader.

For the last 20 years, Craig has worked as a team leader for British Airways first at Gatwick and now at Heathrow.

“BA has been very supportive of my Reservist work. They allow me time and flexibility to fulfil my commitment to the Reserves and give me an extra five days’ leave for annual training”.

Craig is proud to serve in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and is thankful for all the experiences he has had since joining.

He said: “My Reservist Service all started with a chat in the pub to some friends. Since then, I’ve become part of a bigger family, travelling to some amazing places. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it, but it is important to understand that the more you put into Reserves, the more you will get back.”

One of Craig’s proudest moments was when he marched in the Lord Mayor’s Show with 4624 Sqn colleagues.

“I marched in my No.1 uniform, with my Afghanistan medal pinned on,” he said. “We were marching behind the Queen’s Colour Squadron and I couldn’t puff my chest out any further with pride. That was when I really felt a special part of the Royal Air Force.”


If you are interested in learning more about 4624 Movements Sqn or other RAF Reserve opportunities, please ring the Recruiters on 01993 897712 or email

Royal County of Berkshire Army cadets have most successful shooting year


Cadets from the Royal County entered a Nationally organised ACF small bore competition with 600 entries and run under civilian National Small-bore rifle  Association rules.

Of the initial squad of 12, 10 managed to shoot well enough in the first round where the top 200 competitors could continue into the second round

After a further round of shooting 7 of the team were in the top 100 of the whole competition and have been awarded the coveted Cadet 100 badge 2016/7 to wear on their uniform.

4 of the team entered last year and this was the first year for the remainder of the squad.

2 Cadets, CSM Kelly and Cpl Egereva, shot well enough to be selected for the ACF l team to shoot in the Junior Inter-Services Small-bore match, The Whistler Trophy  and have been awarded their National Colours.

LCpl A Egereva of 9 Platoon Caversham is to be commended to achieving second place in the overall Cadet 100 competition for the second year running.

In order to get to this high standard of shooting  Cadets had to attend a minimum of 10 training sessions between September and October and further shooting in February for the second round of the competition.

For further information on Cadet competition shooting please look at the CCRS (Council for Cadet Rifle Shooting ) website

C/SM J Kelly               Whitley            Riles

L/Cpl A Egereva         Caversham     REME

C/SM G Manning        Caversham     REME

Cpl H Lee                    Woodley          REME

Cdt F.O’Higgins          Woodley          REME

Cdt C Stevens            Caversham     REME

Cpl C.Turner               Caversham     REME

Introducing the very first New Style UKCC Level 3 Surf Kayak Coach in the UK

Sea Cadet Adult Volunteer – Sub Lieutenant Monty Smedley from Southampton has become the very first person in the UK to qualify as a UKCC Level 3 Surf Kayak Coach. Monty who is the SCC Headquarters Staff Officer for Paddlesports gained the new award very recently after completing a very tough training and assessment program which included:

  • A three-day core training course in 2015 which is common to all Coaches on the Level 3 pathway. This was followed by two days of discipline specific (surf kayak) training at Westward Ho! In North Devon. On completion Monty then had to find two mentors, one to advise on coaching practice and one to advise on technical delivery. Both mentors had to watch the sessions he delivered over a one year period.
  • Finding 2-4 committed cadets who would sign up for a year long process including goal setting, monthly sessions and attending a final assessment day.  Two cadets, identical twins Sophie and Beth from Salisbury unit, signed up, each with individual goals, each completing 21 sessions with Monty over a 12-month period.
  • Planning the long-term student’s development into sessions, agreeing dates around school work and other commitments, running sessions on the water, reviewing and then writing up all of the information into a portfolio, which was nearly 200 pages when complete.
  • Submitting the final portfolio for review and undertaking a final full day’s assessment in Bude, North Cornwall

As part of the process Beth and Sophie took part in a surf competition and both achieved their BC 3* Surf Kayak Award.

As you can see from what was required this was a long process, which amongst work, family and other SCC commitments took up most of Monty’s free time!

S/Lt (SCC) Monty Smedley RNR is a long-term SCC Volunteer who has been an Instructor in the organisation since 1994. Now aged 41 He is still as committed to the SCC and Kayaking as he was when joining as a cadet at York Unit in his teens. Monty gained his BCU 1 Star award in 1991 and became a L2 Coach/Assessor in July 2000 since then he has built up a large portfolio of BCU (latterly Canoe England) Qualifications using them both as a coach and a committed paddler.

Written by Lt Cdr (SCC) Ray Mitchell GCGI RNR