Where did 2023 go and I cannot believe that the festive period is here already! It certainly has been a jam-packed year where the Region has showcased itself at every level. It was impressive to see so many Cadets and Volunteers in full swing enjoying Wing Camps and delivering a broad range of activities. I was delighted to see the RAF support for the Blue camps and extremely grateful to both the RAFAC Camp teams and the Station staff for their superb interaction and collective teamwork to give the cadets the broadest opportunities and the most enjoyable experience possible.
The year saw the Region selected as the National lead for the RAFAC Muster Parade 2023. I cannot be prouder of the outstanding job done by all those involved and who managed, against the odds, to superbly plan, execute and deliver such a fantastic event at RAF Benson. Congratulations, thank you and well done to all of you.
We also saw the final element of the ASTRA regional boundaries change programme implemented where we said farewell to Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing and to the Buckinghamshire Squadrons from Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire Wing. My thanks to all in the departing teams for their support and output on the Region and wishing you all the very best and continued success in your new Regions.
Other Regional success and achievements worthy of note include more than 60 Cadet Forces Commissions being approved over the last 18 months, congratulations to all of you newly appointed. We held our first indoor Drone course in the new RAFAC Activity Centre at RAF Wittering. Congratulations to SEM Wing for winning the Best Sporting Wing in 2022-23; sport continues to recover well in the post-Covid period and my sincere thanks to the Regional and Wing Sports leads for their resilience and desire to promote and run the activities. There has been significant work done in Adventure Training with over 100 Volunteers and Senior cadets receiving training or gaining NGB qualifications this year, so well done to the Regional and Wing Adventure Training leadership for this significant achievement. AEF has certainly had its challenges, but the opportunities have thankfully now been increased, with intent to increase further. I am pleased to see the fair allocation across the Region within the Wings and CCF and my thanks go to the Region and Wing Aviation team for facilitating. Alongside this is the increase in GIFs delivered by VGS Community, which will undoubtedly be bolstered with the standing up of 611 VGS at RAF Honington. There are too many other successes and achievements to mention here but to all of you who make such a difference and add brilliant value to the cadet experience – thank you.
I would also like to thank all those in the Civilian Committees for their outstanding work this year supporting the Sqns and Wings. Also, for your continued patience as the construct goes through its transition with the GPF rebranding to the Air Cadet Charity from 1 April 2024.
Looking ahead for 2024, most of you will be aware of the challenges facing RAFAC with considerable workforce and financial resource challenges in addition to some National activities being paused for 12 months to allow a reset. Good communications, planning and resilience are going to be the key drivers to ensure success in the year ahead where we can, and will, overcome and adapt to find fantastic opportunities for our cadets.
On behalf of the Regional Leadership, I wish you, and all those that support you, a fantastic festive period and hopefully some well-deserved rest to recharge for 2024.