- Can you give us a bit of background about yourselves?
Bob spent 20 years in the RAF as a ground engineer, with postings to RAF Coningsby with 12 Squadron working on the Vulcan; OC HF transmitters Cyprus; USAF Institute of Technology Ohio, taking a Masters in Astronautics; Science Research Development Establishment developing future defence networks, Christchurch and the MOD. He left in 1978 and joined Standard Telecommunications Laboratories in Harlow where he was rapidly promoted to the equivalent of Chief Scientist IT Systems. Jane joined him as his Research Assistant in 1986. They married in 1989.
- How did you find out about volunteering for the RAF Association?
Bob says: “We didn’t really volunteer at all! At a Remembrance Service in 2010 we were introduced to the late Group Captain Bob Nuttall, who was President of the local Association branch. Bob was a very persuasive man and he encouraged us to join. Six months later he asked us to take on the roles of treasurer and secretary.” The following year Bob was asked if he would also be chairman.
- Why did you choose to support the RAF Association? (if not answered above)
It wasn’t long before we realised that the regular branch meetings were providing vital friendship, help and support to local veterans (of all three forces), often elderly, many living alone. Having monthly meetings to look forward to has been a turning point for several people as they appreciate the prevailing ethos of chivalry and kindness to all. Being part of the wider Association is very rewarding and an opportunity to support past and present members of the RAF family. Finally the Association encourages full participation of couples working as a team as we insist on doing.
- Both of you are very involved with your branch, carrying out several roles. Which role do you find the most fulfilling and enjoyable?
Although we’ve only actually been elected as chairman/treasurer and secretary, which can be time-consuming and sometimes stressful, over time we had to pick up other roles as various committee members were unable to carry on. Of these the most interesting has to be organising the Wings Appeal. We both thoroughly enjoy doing the supermarket collections people are always so generous, whether they are just off-loading surplus change or specifically making a bee-line for us when they see who we are. Many people say; “Oh, I have to support you: my Dad was in the RAF in World War Two”, or “My son has just started his training”. It’s always moving to hear their stories.
- As well as carrying out all these different roles you also took part in the 2018 Annual Conference in Staffordshire, what was that like?
It is good to get together with members from other branches and share stories, swap ideas and generally encourage each other, especially those of us who are feeling our age. Meeting active members aged 90+ is sobering. Sometimes you can feel that you’re the only branch that’s struggling, and it helps to realise that we all have similar difficulties to face. The RAF100 Service at the National Memorial Arboretum on the Sunday was wonderful, a very special day.