Employers spread their wings at Lossie

May 10, 2023
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Visitors in front of Atlantic Building

Employers from across Scotland had the unforgettable opportunity to visit Scotland’s only Royal Air Force base, RAF Lossiemouth, on 26 April.

RAF Lossiemouth invited employers from across the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland for a Reserves Employer Engagement visit. The guests assembled at the Officers’ Mess where Officer Commanding of 2622 (Highland) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) Regiment, Squadron Leader Chris Beckley, kicked off the station tour with a warm welcome.

Employers welcomed by 2622 Squadron's Officer Commanding
Sqn Ldr Chris Beckley (left) welcoming the first set of employers at the Officers’ Mess.

The next stop was the Atlantic Building (pictured, top of page) on the other side of the airfield, home of Boeing’s Poseidon MRA1 (P-8A) aircraft. RAF Lossiemouth’s Station Commander, Group Captain Jim Lee, provided an introductory brief, highlighting “the power of the Reserves”.

Audience
Employers listening to the RAF presentations.

Following a buffet lunch, the guests enjoyed the opportunity to find out more about one of the latest aircraft to join the RAF fleet. 201 ‘Guernsey’s Own’ Squadron, a Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron that has been operating the P-8A Poseidon since 2021, delivered a capabilities brief. The Executive Officer emphasised that they “couldn’t do all of the operational capabilities without the Reserves”. Guests were then able to see the aircraft up close and hear from the technicians who maintain them. The aircraft is used for maritime surveillance as well as anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare.

Employers next to aircraft
Employers admiring the Poseidon MRA1 (P-8A) aircraft.

After a brief introduction to the 2622 Squadron’s hangar, which is shared with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, the group visited II (Army Co-operation) Squadron. Andi McColl welcomed the visitors with a Reservist presentation on one of the latest fighter aircraft in the RAF fleet and its role in defence in the UK airspace.

RAF presentation
RAF personnel delivering a presentation on II (AC) Sqn and the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4.

A senior engineering officer and two pilots led an in-depth tour of the Typhoon FGR Mk 4, an extremely agile fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft with capabilities spanning the entire spectrum of air operations, from air policing and peace support to high-intensity conflict. The II (AC) Squadron visit finished in the pilots’ crew room where they showcased some of their safety equipment and attire. The employers praised the Typhoon Squadron visit as the highlight of the day.

Group in front of Typhoon
Half of the visitors in front of the Typhoon FGR4 with 2622 Sqn Adjutant Flt Lt Terry Cowan (third from the right).

The afternoon tour was wrapped up with a chance for the employers to meet serving RAF Reservists from across Scotland to gain valuable insight into the Reserves’ training and work. Reservists from 2622, 602 and 603 Squadrons RAuxAF answered questions from the employers, highlighting the transferable skills and qualifications they benefit from in their civilian lives. The employers were impressed with the duality of the Reservists, including Helen Robertson, Organisational Development Advisor at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL). She said: “Reservists are building up skills for any type of employment and building up their CV.”

Jane Henderson, HR Business Partner at Highland Council, said: “What a fantastic eye-opening day! I have a much better understanding of the role the Reservists play and how I can also influence the ethos at Highland Council. Thank you for the hospitality – I felt very privileged to be involved.”

Group of RAF Reservists
RAF Reservists welcoming employers at the 2622 Sqn hangar.

The employers returned to the station later that evening for drinks and dinner at the Officers’ Mess. They were joined by some of the RAF personnel, including Squadron Leader Chris Beckley who thanked both Highland and Lowland RFCAs as well as the employers for their time and support.

He spoke about appreciating the Reservists’ motivation and the high return of service that 2622 Squadron gets from the Reservists: “I’m always impressed by the commitment of the Reservists who already have a job and offer to join the Reserves. It’s amazing that you employers have leaned into the Armed Forces Covenant, and I encourage you to extend your networks this evening and make use of the opportunity to meet colleagues from Highland and Lowland. Thank you very much on behalf of Defence for your hard work and for signing the Covenant.”

Officers' Mess dinner
Sqn Ldr Chris Beckley delivering a speech at the evening meal at the Officers’ Mess.

Guests departed RAF Lossiemouth with a deeper understanding of the essential work of the RAF, RAF Lossiemouth, Defence as a whole, and Reservists. Guests were in awe of the wide range of skills and disciplines – such as teamwork, self-confidence, decision-making, leadership, presentation skills, and project management – that the RAF Reservists gain through military training and how they can benefit civilian employers. These events help to form firm relationships between industry and Defence as well as highlight the importance and advantages of strong partnerships. Helen said: “We all learned from each other.”

Highland RFCA’s Regional Employer Engagement Director Ray Watt – supported by Employer Engagement Admin Officers Danielle Barclay and Hayley Munro – hosted the following employers: Pam Dudek (NHS Highland), Frances Garrow (Moray Council), Glenda Gray (Aberdeenshire Council), Jane Henderson (Highland Council), Alasdair Pattinson (NHS Grampian), Helen Robertson (HIAL), and Lorraine Westley (Recruitment Bee).

All of the invited employers are Armed Forces Covenant signatories and Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Award holders in the HRFCA-area. HIAL, Moray Council, NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and Recruitment Bee are all ERS Silver Award Holders. Aberdeenshire Council and Highland Council are both ERS Gold Award holders.

Ray said: “We were delighted to invite employers from across our area to visit the RAF station at Lossiemouth. It was fantastic to give them an insight into RAF operations and an understanding of the amazing capability our Armed Forces has as its disposal.

“Our primary aim was to meet and learn about our Reservists and we were all blown away by the opportunity to meet these people who are most definitely twice the citizen. We are blessed as a nation have such dedicated professionals defending our national interests. I hope that even more companies recognise their commitment and choose to support them by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.”

RAF Lossiemouth is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations which protect UK airspace. It is home to four Typhoon Combat Aircraft Squadrons, two Poseidon Squadrons, and an RAF Force Protection Wing, which includes Reservist personnel of the RAF Regiment and RAF Police.

In 2024, RAF Lossiemouth will also become the home of the UK’s fleet of Wedgetail E-7 surveillance aircraft, further bolstering Scotland’s key role in UK and NATO defence and security. RAF Lossiemouth’s personnel and aircraft support operations worldwide, and the station hosts numerous national and international aircraft exercises. RAF Reservists are normally employed in a civilian organisation, while also training and working as a vital part of the RAF.

To find out more about RAF Lossiemouth, click HERE.

To find out more about the mutual benefits of partnering with Defence and how you can support the Armed Forces, contact HRFCA’s Employer Engagement Team HERE.