On Wednesday 28th October, RAF Shawbury held its annual Awards for Recognition of Innovation, Excellence and Service (ARIES) to celebrate the achievements of personnel at RAF Shawbury.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s event was a smaller affair than usual with no family or friends present due to the social distancing, however it was no less significant. The awards formally recognise Service Personnel, Civil Servants and Contractors who have made a significant contribution to RAF Shawbury and the surrounding community.
The ARIES are named in tribute to the Aries flights, a series of flights that pushed the boundaries of navigation techniques, equipment and knowledge. In October 1944, PD328 ‘Aries’ undertook the RAF’s first circumnavigation of the globe taking off from the Empire Air Navigation School at RAF Shawbury, under the command of Wing Commander D C McKinley DFC AFC. The trip was successful, and Aries returned after 53 days and over 200 flying hours, having made a series of ‘firsts’ and set a number of records.
The Station Commander, Group Captain Chris Mullen ADC MA RAF was delighted to welcome Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire Mrs Anna Turner JP, and Deputy Lieutenant of Shropshire Air Vice-Marshall Warren “Bunny” James CBE DL as special guests to the event. The following awards were presented to personnel:
· Flight Sergeant Gavin Roberts - Sporting Achievement Award
· Squadron Leader Gary James - Community Spirit Award
· Carpentry Workshops - Most Outstanding Contribution to RAF Shawbury (Civilian) Award
· Senior Aircraftman Patrick Hammond - Most Outstanding Contribution to RAF Shawbury (Military) Award
· Supply Squadron - Unsung Hero Award
· Flight Lieutenant Mike Bullen - Most Outstanding Individual Award
· Survival Equipment Section - Most Outstanding Team Award
· Warrant Officer 1 David King - Lifetime Achievement Award.
· Sergeant Stephen Coombes - McKinley Memorial Prize (Station Commander’s Award)
This year marked the first time the McKinley Memorial Prize has been awarded at the ARIES. Named in tribute to Wing Commander McKinley, the Aircraft Commander of the Aries flights, this award has been presented to RAF Shawbury by the current Station Commander, Group Captain Chris Mullen. It will be awarded yearly to the individual that the Station Commander choses to personally recognise from the nominations received.
Speaking after the ARIES, Group Captain Mullen said:
“I was delighted to see so many personnel nominated for awards by their peers. I am hugely impressed by the talent and motivation of our personnel across the Whole-Force at RAF Shawbury and it is right that we celebrate their significant contributions, albeit in a socially distanced environment. Whilst all the nominees are worthy of recognition, my congratulations go to the award winners.”