Families Federation Christmas Message

Christmas is a time to reset our thoughts and focus on those who matter most to us – our families. Young or Old, at home or abroad, on base or on operations my thoughts are with you all at this special time and especially with the families of those whose loved ones have been tragically killed or injured and who will find Christmas so much more difficult as a consequence.

After a year of notable operational success and with many, many airmen, airwomen and civil servants having done and delivered so much for our Royal Air Force and our Country, I have strongly encouraged commanders at all levels and across Defence to allow those who are at home to maximise their leave opportunities over the Christmas and New Year period. I recognise that those on operational duties, not least on Operation HERRICK and those at Brize Norton, Akrotiri, the Falkland Islands and on or supporting Quick Reaction Alert or Search and Rescue duties will not be able to take the full opportunity, but they should be able to get a good break in and around their duties or when they return home.

This last year – 2011 – has been demanding, busy and dynamic; it has also been one of identifying considerable change and planning the future consequences for our people and their families. In these austere times, our flexibility is very much more limited but, despite all the changes, there is much that has been achieved on our bases and for our people; although I recognise there is always more that we would want to do. I remain determined to do all that I can to ensure that these achievements are not lost and, while the pace of progress has reduced, that we continue to work to deliver tangible improvements over the next few years. The current economic factors are making all our lives more demanding and we will have to continue to look for more cost effective answers to all that we do.

Nevertheless, with your support and encouragement we – those serving in and alongside the Royal Air Force – will be able to continue to deliver on operations and at home. I recognise that this is a ‘big ask’ of individuals, of families and of friends. I am very grateful for the efforts of all those serving in the Royal Air Force and for the loyal support of all their families – neither of these commitments are taken for granted!

I wish you all, wherever you are, a very Happy Christmas and a productive 2012!