RAF team praised for helping to keep Hampshire's skies safe

AWARDS have been presented to dedicated and driven RAF personnel who help keep the skies above Hampshire safe.

Monday, 16th May 2016, 6:00 am
The outgoing mayor and mayoress of Fareham Cllr Mike Ford and his wife Anne signing the visitors' book Picture: Keith Woodland

The outgoing mayor of Fareham, Councillor Mike Ford, hailed the efforts of staff at RAF Swanwick as ‘incredible’ when he handed out accolades to the team.

The unit has been based in the county since 2002 and is embedded within the National Air Traffic Services London Area Centre, at Swanwick.

About 170 RAF air traffic controllers, flight operations managers and assistants work alongside their civilian colleagues in the joint operations room.

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Speaking of their efforts, Cllr Ford said: ‘To come here and hear the incredible stories of active service and the wonderful stories of service throughout the world has been a pleasure.’

The teams help with the defence of the UK as well as the assisting in the safe passageway of both military and civilian aircraft across the nation.

Among those to receive awards included Squadron Leader Ian Evans, who was presented with the Air Officer Commanding 22 Training Group Commendation for his work while based at RAF Shawbury.

While there, he immersed himself in station life, becoming an ambassador of the service, regularly supporting charities and volunteering as a first responder in his own time.

Flight Sergeant Paul Buttolph was awarded the coveted Long Service clasp and Good Conduct medal, received by personnel who have acted admirably and beyond reproach for more than 30 years.

Reading out Flt Sgt Buttolph’s citation, Flight Sergeant Rachel Hall said: ‘As well as being as a controller in the operations room, he is also a valuable controller in the distress and diversion cell, which provides an invaluable emergency service to military and civilian aircraft.’

Others to pick up accolades included: Flight Lieutenant Tristan Purcell who received the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan; Warrant Officers Steve Collins and James Watson who were presented with their Warrant Forms and Sergeants Jon Grant and Andrew Hurcombe who earned the Long Service and Good Conduct medal.