On Wednesday 26 April 2023, employers from the Lowlands of Scotland travelled north to RAF Lossiemouth for an insight and engagement day.
RAF Lossiemouth is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations that protect UK airspace. It is home to four Typhoon combat aircraft squadrons, two Poseidon squadrons, and an RAF Force Protection Wing. 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.
Whilst the busy station is home to many Regulars, Reservists also play a critical part in supporting all activity at RAF Lossiemouth. Alongside this military service, these Reservists often have busy full-time civilian jobs and family lives to balance; rendering the support of their civilian employers indispensable.
It was, therefore, an extremely valuable opportunity for the Lowland employers to visit RAF Lossiemouth and to meet with serving Royal Air Force Reservists and Regulars. Lowland RFCA was pleased to take representatives from the following companies on the trip:
- Skyrora Ltd
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- RB Safety Consultants Ltd
- Mister Singh’s India
- Lothian Buses
- Police Scotland
- Brodie Engineering Ltd
- Worshipful Company of Distillers
- XPO Logistics
- RSM UK
- Rangers Charity Foundation
After an initial welcome from the Station Commander, Group Captain Jim Lee, the employers had the opportunity to visit a P-8A Poseidon; an aircraft used for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare. After a capabilities brief, the employers were able to meet some of the technicians who maintain the aircraft.
Following this, the group enjoyed a meet and greet with Reservists from across Scotland and had the opportunity to find out more about their training and work with the RAF. Jennifer Cassidy, Communications Manager at Rangers Charity Foundation, said: ‘I particularly enjoyed meeting the serving Personnel and learning about the different Operations that they’re involved with; learning about what these men and women do to protect us everyday.’
Michael Koetsier, Vice President for Client Engagement at Skyrora Ltd, also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with Reserves, remarking: ‘I was so impressed by the commitment of the Reserves, considering many of them already have full-time jobs. They were extremely confident, presented themselves well, and articulated themselves clearly. That’s the sort of quality person we look to employ in our business.’
Employers were then taken to see a Typhoon. The Typhoon FGR Mk4 is a multi-role combat aircraft, capable of the full spectrum of air operations including air policing, peace support and high-intensity conflict. The employers were fascinated to learn about the role of the fighter aircraft and its impact on UK defence.
After an exciting day, the visitors were invited to join RAF personnel for dinner in the Officers’ Mess, providing another opportunity to learn more about the role of Reserves and the RAF.
Reflecting on his experience, Alan Skinner, an Engineering Manager at Brodie Engineering, said: ‘I learnt that the RAF is so much more than just pilots: it’s engineers, it’s traffic control crew, and many more. I hadn’t really thought much about that before. One of the Commanding Officers told us it’s like a pyramid. Whilst the pilot is at the thin end at the top, there’s a huge amount of highly-skilled people who are needed to get the pilot up into the air.’
Michael Koetsier was also surprised by what he learnt at RAF Lossiemouth: ‘The RAF does an awful lot more than I was aware of. I was surprised by the size of the Force, the fact there are eight squadrons based at RAF Lossiemouth, and that they have Typhoons, Poseidons and Wedgetails. It was great to see all the investment going on at RAF Lossiemouth, not just on accommodation but also with new hangars. I was fascinated to learn more about some of the activities the RAF are involved in. Some of it you see in the media, so it was good to find out more!’
Crucially, the visit gave the guests a better insight into the significance of Reservists and how vital their employer support is. Jennifer Cassidy remarked: ‘A strong theme throughout the trip was how the Regulars from the RAF and other Services really couldn’t do without the Reservists. I learnt that Reservists are highly skilled and highly committed.’
Equally struck by the quality of the Reservists, Derek Harris, CEO at Ecosene, said: ‘Before the trip I hadn’t appreciated how well-trained the Reservists are and how much they can give back to the companies they work for. The leadership training they receive is a really obvious bonus to most companies.’
As the thrilling day drew to a close, the group was thoroughly impressed by all they had met and seen. For Skyrora’s Michael, the event affirmed what he had already experienced of working with Reserves and Veterans, concluding: ‘I’m always impressed by the Defence people we work with. They just get the job done, and these days it’s quite hard to find people like that. Defence people don’t look for issues, they find solutions – who doesn’t want to work with people like that?’
Photographs: MOD Crown Copyright