A hangar was transformed into a spectacular banquet hall for the RAF Benson 80th anniversary awards dinner; recognising the outstanding work of our personnel while commemorating 80 years of the station.
The Spirit of Benson award was presented to Flight Lieutenant John Carter by Air Vice-Marshal David Cooper, the Air Officer Commanding No 2 Group. John's quiet professionalism and selflessness epitomises the spirit of RAF Benson. He has worked behind the scenes on almost every event at RAF Benson, particularly those for our Junior Rank personnel. He doesn't do it for praise or recognition, he simply does it because he wants to make a difference for our personnel and families.
The Station Commander's Resilience Award was presented to Corporal Duncan Penman. The Station Commander was joined by his wife Kath to present the award, which he personally judged. Duncan was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour on his frontal lobe and underwent lengthy surgery to remove 80 percent of the tumour. The day after he was released from hospital, his wife gave birth to their first child. Duncan was determined to remain in the RAF and battled through intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy while getting to grips with being a father. His hard work has paid off and he is now returning to work full time in his primary role. His resilience is truly inspirational and he quite rightly received a standing ovation as he collected his award.
The Airman's Council award was presented to Senior Aircraftman (Technician) Matthew McCreadie by Warrant Officer First Class Glenn Haughton, the first Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chiefs of Staff. Matthew is a professional wakeboarder who was chosen to represent Team GB in 2018. Unfortunately, his arm was severely injured while taking part in a wake boarding competition and, with him unable to even hold a pen let alone conduct his primary duty as an engineer, his place in the team was lost. Matthew underwent intense therapy and operations and battled back to full fitness. Such was his spirit that he not only returned to full engineering duties but he regained his place in Team GB for 2019.
The Loyalty award was presented to Senior Aircraftman Zak Hoursoglou by Wing Commander (Ret'd) Ian Morris of Airbus Helicopters. As well as performing exceptionally in his day job with the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron, Zak also selflessly donates much of his personal time to supporting social areas of the station including the Sports Bar.
The Professional Excellence award was presented to Corporal Ashley Wade by Mr Arthur Bennett of CAE. A Puma avionics technician, Ashley is a natural leader and ensured his team rectified complex issues for the Puma Force while deployed in Afghanistan. His commitment to the Puma Force goes far beyond his small team though and he has been instrumental in improving morale and helicopter availability across the force at a time when they are heavily committed to operations and training, both in the UK and overseas.
The Professional Teamwork award was presented to the Demand Procurement Cell by Mr Trevor Winchcombe of Serco. The newly formed Demand Procurement Cell were recognised for their outstanding commitment to rapidly establishing an effective team and delivering exceptional service to the whole station, including those deployed overseas.
The Resourcefulness and Innovation award was presented to Senior Aircraftman Louise Barlow by Mr Tom Hardy of Boeing. Louise was commended for her innovative approach to ensuring a robust and swift supply chain for the Puma Force engineers, whether in the UK or deployed overseas.
The Community Teamwork award was presented to the Sports Bar team by Rear Admiral Jonathan Pentreath, the Commander of the Joint Helicopter Command. The team were recognised for their selflessness in supporting the community by ensuring that a much-loved facility at the heart of the community, particularly for our Junior Ranks, remains open.
The Unsung Sporting Hero award was presented to Corporal Rachel Kay by Capt (Ret'd) Luke Sinnott of Flying for Freedom, a hero in his own right. Rachel was commended for her unerring commitment to RAF Ladies Cricket despite no longer being able to play her beloved sport following an injury.
The Sports Personality of the Year award was presented to Senior Aircraftman Toby Evans by the inspirational Lt Col (Ret'd) Mark Bowra of the Bowra Foundation. Toby was recognised for his outstanding contribution to both RAF Rugby Union and League. While being scouted for various professional clubs, Toby's commitment to his home team at Benson has been unwavering and he helped lead the team to victory in the RAF Cup.
The Sports Team of the Year award was presented to the Benson Swimming Team by Mr George Butler from Thales. Despite not having a swimming pool on station, the team have delivered consecutive wins in the Inter-Station Championships and achieved success in all swimming disciplines, including diving and water polo.