Turn to Starboard Patron
I joined the Royal Air Force as a teenager in 1967 and initially completed a 2-year apprenticeship qualifying as an airframe fitter. I went on to become a pilot flying the Jet Provost, Hunter, Jaguar and Tornado. I completed a range of flying, staff and command appointments, finishing as the Deputy Commander of the NATO Headquarters in Naples. My flying career concluded in 2014 having spent the previous 7 years flying the Tutor aircraft giving air experience flights to just over 1000 Air Cadets.
Having retired from the Royal Air Force in January 2008, I now hold a commission as a flying officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training). I hold a number of voluntary appointments focussed mainly on the Royal Air Force or Youth, or a combination of both, and my principle passion is for offshore sailing.
I first heard about Turn to Starboard in 2012 when Shaun Pascoe briefed an Area Reunion of the RAF Association about his role in the Royal Air Force and how he came to establish the charity, and I immediately sensed that this was something I wanted to become involved with. Helping servicemen and women, and their families, in the difficult transition to civilian life, especially if they have been affected by the stresses of recent military operations, is of crucial importance, and Turn to Starboard does just that. It does not claim to ‘fix’ the psychological distress suffered silently by many, but it does bring renewed focus to the lives of those sail with the charity leading them to seek professional medical support. In short, it helps them ‘make the right turn’.
As one of the charity’s Patrons I get great personal fulfilment from reading about or being briefed on the number of people for whom Turn to Starboard has made a real and practical difference to their lives. As a skipper I enjoy taking families out on the water for a few days, often to experience something completely new, and always providing the opportunity to put aside the cares and stresses of day-to-day life and start rebuilding their family team. It is immensely satisfying, made more so when a young child comes up and says that it was the first time they recall Dad, or Mum, laughing.
Of course, the added bonus is that I get to work alongside a highly motivated and dynamic team of staff and volunteers, and get as much sailing as I can squeeze into my busy diary – what is there not to like about that?