Royal Air Force Catering Warrant Officers Association Formed 1997
The Royal Air Force Catering Warrants Officers Association (RAFCWOA) was formed at Royal Air Force Linton-on-Ouse on 25 September 1997.
The concept of such an organisation had been debated at various ‘Formal’ dinners, arranged for WO’s after the Annual Catering Officers Conference. Commissioned Officers attended the Royal Air Force Catering Officers Association (RAFCOA) Annual Formal Dinner, held in the host Units Officers’ Mess; a number of WO’s who attended the Conference went home/returned to their units. However, because of the distance to travel, a number of WO’s were accommodated in the host Sergeants’ Mess over-night. After the 1984 Catering Officers Conference at RAF Lyneham, the first I attended after promotion to WO, WO Alex Simpson, the Catering WO at the unit, organised a ‘Top Table’ and managed to ‘obtain’ a barrel of beer exclusively for our use. This turned out to be such a good night that words spread and each year there after more WO’s who attended the conference stayed on after the conference. This in turn led to other Catering WO's, who did not attend the conference, being invited to the evening function, organised by the Catering WO (Chef/Mess Manager) of the unit wherever the Catering Officers’ Annual Conference was held. These functions became so popular that it prompted many discussions on the formation of a Catering Warrant Officers Association. However, no constructive action was taken until 1996 when WO's Alan Day and Colin Smith, then stationed at RAF Laarbruch and Bruggen respectively, suggested a ‘Formal Luncheon’ for serving and retired WO’s. With this in mind they contacted all serving, and known retired WO’s to see if they were interested in such a function. The response was encouraging with 72 personnel interested in attending. Therefore it was decided to go ahead and organise the luncheon. Flight Lieutenant John Healey - Officer Commanding Catering Flight and WO George Brodie, Officers’ Mess Manager RAF Linton-on-Ouse, were contacted to arrange for the Sergeants’ Mess to be used. Sergeant John Murray, Mess Manager, organised arrangements for the proceedings - with the blessing of the Chairman of the Mess Committee (CMC) and Mess Members. At the luncheon the Station Commander, Group Captain Thomas, who attended as our guest, invited us back the next year (1997). This invitation prompted various discussions on the formation of an Association therefore it was unanimously agreed to form the RAFCWOA. An inaugural meeting was arranged for 25 October 1997 at RAF Linton-on-Ouse followed by a Formal Luncheon, which was attended by 32 serving and retired WO’s of Trade Group 19, and thus the Royal Air Force Catering Warrant Officers’ Association was born.
A Committee was voted in, which consisted of the following personnel:
Chairman: Warrant Officer Alan Day MBE BEM
Deputy Chairman: Warrant Officer Colin Smith MBE BEM
Honorary Secretary: Mr Eddie Jones
Honorary Treasurer: Warrant Officer Bill Flinn
Entertainments: Warrant Officer Ken Wood
Warrant Officer Lance Richardson
Mr George Brodie BEM
Mr John Hamilton
Mr Chas Beven
Mr Taff James
A draft ‘Constitution’ was written by WO Alan Day, with the assistance of Group Captain Steve Wood – RAF Director of Catering and approved by all members. Group Capt Wood agreed to be our first President.
The rest is now history.
To date (2007) we have been invited back each year to RAF Linton-on-Ouse by the Station Commander, for which the association is extremely grateful. We are privileged to enjoy the full services of the mess. Retired members especially appreciate this, as some of our more ‘mature’ members had not been into a service mess for a number of years. The Association holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Formal Reunion Luncheon in October each year as this has proven to be the best month for everyone – after summer holidays and before any Christmas commitments. We normally have three days of activities:
The main role of the Association is to provide fellowship, companionship and friendship between Catering Warrant Officers, serving and retired by holding an AGM and social functions each year - plus supporting charities when the occasion arises. Some of our members use the Association as a vehicle just to keep in touch with colleagues and friends from the past. Each year the numbers increase as promotions occur and on occasions names from the past appear - from ones old ‘boss’ to mates who we underwent training with.
In our early years in the RAF we were accommodated in 16/20-man room accommodation, some with coal fires, therefore we had to learn to tolerate and respect each other in the confined space. Consequently we got to know each other quite well, and that kind of comradeship lasts forever! It is rewarding to observe members meeting each other at our reunions; some have not seen each other for a number of years and recall times when they served together. Also it is interesting for them to discuss various topics on modern day catering in the RAF with serving members, and other non-catering matters, with members employed in other businesses outside of the Armed Services.
The Association considers its welfare role as very important. We have a Welfare Member on the committee and members’ families are aware of his role. Although we can only give ‘first aid’ support, we can put families in touch with various welfare organisations such as SSAFA, British Legion, HM Armed Forces Veteran’s Agency, CAB etc, if required.
1997-1999 AIR COMMODORE S WOOD
1999-2004 GROUP CAPTAIN D PEARSON
2004-2011 GROUP CAPTAIN L BESSANT
2011-Present WING COMMANDER J KELLY
1997-2000 WO AJ DAY
2000-2002 WO (RETD) G BRODIE
2002-2003 WO (RETD) C SINCLAIR
2003-2004 WO B IBBS
2004-2006 WO (RETD) I BRADFORD
2006-2008 WO K APPLEYARD
2008-2009 WO (RETD) E JONES
2009-2011 FLT LT P WILMOt
2011-Present WO RP WHITE
2011-Present WO (RETD) AJ Day