Arriving at RAF Benson on 3 April, the Baton travelled around the Station before taking to the skies for the first time. Carrying it on board the Puma helicopter as it travelled to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford was Leading Aircraftman Emma Ockendon, a trainee Puma engineer. On its arrival, it was met by some of the dozens of RAF medical personnel who work at the hospital, maintaining their clinical skills in between operational deployments.
Emma, who also celebrated her 20th birthday, joined the Baton Relay Team in London on 1 April as it depart-ed from the Royal Courts of Justice and helped to carry the baton from RAF High Wycombe to her home sta-tion, RAF Benson. Currently working on Puma helicopters with 33 Squadron while she studies for an NVQ in Aircraft Systems Maintenance through the RAF, Emma said:
“This has been a wonderful experience for me. I love getting involved and this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I’ve only been in the RAF for 11 months and am at the start of a great career. My father was an aviation mechanic in the civilian world and being trained by the RAF will allow me to follow in his footsteps if I want to.”
David Smith, Emergency Planning Officer and Armed Forces Champion at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“The Trust is delighted to be part of the RAF 100 Baton Relay to celebrate their centenary. It’s fantastic that we’re able to be part of the baton route, and able to take time to celebrate the RAF’s contribution to our hospital and local area. The Trust is also taking this opportunity to thank all of our military staff for their hard work and dedication – they’re an invaluable part of our hospital and an asset to us.”
The event is just one stop on a UK wide tour, which will see a specially designed baton visit 100 sites associ-ated with the RAF in 100 days. The baton, which features the RAF crest and RAF100 logo, has been de-signed by young RAF recruits using materials that symbolise aircraft construction through the ages. The ba-ton will end its journey at the Horseguards Parade on 10 July, 100 days after it set off.
For more information on the route and to find out about the wider events that will be taking place to mark the RAF’s 100th birthday then visit www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/