31 Sqn Host The Vintners’ Livery Company

In 2011, Sqn Ldr ‘Gaz’ Littlechild was tasked with establishing an affiliation between 31 Sqn and one of the Livery Companies.

It did not take him long to find a suitable one, and he encouraged The Vintners’, one of the ‘Great Twelve’, to join the Goldstars, and accept the invitation to become officially associated. For the few who may not have heard of Livery Companies and The Vintners’ Company in particular, here is a snippet of history:

“The Vintners’ Company, with its first Charter in 1363, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and was instrumental in the creation of the Masters of Wine Examination in 1953. With its origins steeped in the history of the City of London and the import, regulation and sale of wine, the Company continues to maintain strong links with the UK wine trade with Vintners’ Hall known as the trade’s spiritual home. Vintners’ Hall also plays host not only to the Company’s social occasions but also to a number of charitable fund-raising events and other Livery Company.”

On 27th April 2012, 31 Sqn hosted several members of The Vintners’ Company at RAF Marham, including the Master (designate) and took the opportunity to enlighten them on life on a busy fast-jet squadron. The hosting started the evening before the visit, where some members of the Sqn aircrew met the 10 visitors for a meal.On the day of the visit and after a warm welcome from Wg Cdr Jim Mulholland, OC 31 Sqn, Flt Lt ‘Big Will’ Hardesty gave the guests a brief; this gave the guests a thirst for life on 31 Sqn.

Next on the agenda was a look at the Thales GR4 simulator, to show the guests the capability and training this facility offers RAF Marham and the Tornado GR4 crews. The visitors were left astounded and lots of questions were asked of Mr Tom Boyle and Mr John Clarke, who run the simulator on behalf of the company. The Vintners’ were then invited to the Officers’ Mess for lunch, and many laudable comments were made on the high standards of the food and the staff’s professionalism alike. Post lunch and coffees, it was back in the vehicle and across to the Safety Equipment Main Bay to be met by Cpl ‘Gnomes’ Adie and SAC Jason Reid. Here, The Vintners’ were given a brief on the equipment worn by the Tornado crews in the various climates, and an excellent demonstration of the LSJ and a single-man dinghy inflation, which the visitors enjoyed, especially the Master. The guests were especially interested in how so much useful equipment was packed in to the ejection seat base, and how much the aircrew relied on the Safety Equipment personnel to ensure that the kit was fit for purpose.

Taken back across to 31 Sqn HAS site, the visitors were given a tour around the aircraft. The day finally ended with the presentation of a framed 31 Sqn print and a last chance to answer any questions from the visitors. The day was a huge success and the Vintners’ left for their journey back to the big city, after what everyone agreed was a very enjoyable day.

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