Tribute paid to reserve troops

By Lisa CleverdonPERSONNEL from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment took time out from weapons training to meet with The Duke of Westminster when he made a special visit to an air base.

By Lisa Cleverdon

PERSONNEL from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment took time out from weapons training to meet with The Duke of Westminster when he made a special visit to an air base.

Reserves were given the opportunity on Saturday to talk to the Duke, who has taken on a new role as head of all reserve forces throughout the country after being promoted to the rank of major-general.

The Duke spent time with the 2623 (East Anglian) Squadron at the Thetford Ranges, near RAF Honington, as part of ongoing monitoring of the reserve forces.


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The richest man in Britain, with an estimated fortune of £4.9billion, the duke enlisted in 1970 and is the first Territorial Army Officer to be promoted to the rank of major-general since before the Second World War.

"The only way to find out how things are going for the reserves is to speak to the people who are to be mobilised," said the Duke, who is Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff.

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"One of our biggest jobs is to ensure the welfare system works well and it is very important that we do not only talk to the reserves and cadets, but to their families as well."

He added: "I have been asking people here today about their experiences of being mobilised and what the conditions are like for them while they are in service.

"We have to carry out continuous monitoring and making visits like this can really help and I am always keen to find out about people's experiences and get the human side to things."

Reserves at RAF Honington are used to provide support to cadets in the forces, most recently during the Iraq conflict.

Officer Commander, Andy Thayne, said: "For most reserves it is about having the chance to do something completely different that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to do. It is great for personal development and can help people in every aspect of their lives."

The Duke also took the opportunity to visit other Royal Auxiliary Air Force units in the East of England on Saturday, including those at RAF Cottesmore and RAF Marham.

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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