This is the latest update from Sgt Wand, who is now at Welbeck...
I’m now approximately one third of the way through my first year at Welbeck, there are good times and of course bad times, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!
Firstly, I can’t actually remember whether I told you all about my visit to RAF Cranwell back in September, so I will briefly mention it anyway. The RAF Students and RAF affiliated students visited RAF Cranwell between the 26th and 28th of September. We visited the Engineering Departments and I spoke to a Logistics Officer, which really reinforced why I want to go into the RAF as a Logistics Officer. We took part in several team building exercises and command tasks which were really fun and it was nice to get to know each other a bit better. We also visited College Hall Officer’s Mess (CHOM) where we had a ‘tour’, it’s a place really close to my heart, because that is what I am aiming for, despite it being a very long time away!!
Fitness is key, along with academics, for a successful time at Welbeck. To get through a day at Welbeck, you need to be fit and healthy. To make sure our fitness is at a particular standard we have a PFA (Personal Fitness Assessment) which is quite self explanatory! It involves doing as many press ups and sit ups as possible in a time limit, and then running a mile and a half as quickly as possible! This is of course important, because, if and when, we reach our careers we will have to undergo PFAs. Everyone is timetabled in for PT (Physical Training), which is an hour of compulsory training. We also have BPT (Battle PT), which takes place in our MST (Military Skills Training) sessions, we are meant to have it every 2 weeks, however this term the officer organising it has decided to timetable our group for it 3 weeks in a row! BPT is really tough, I won’t lie to you! However, you feel really good afterwards, you always feel like you have broken a personal barrier and achieved something!
On Sunday 13th November, the entire college put on their best uniforms and perfectly glassed boots and parade shoes to parade in remembrance of all of those lost in conflict and to support the families this affects. There are six Welbexians who have died in conflicts in the past 30 years, so Remembrance Day is really important to the college too. The parade looked really good and went really smoothly, our Colour Sergeant was very proud of us!!
I had never played hockey before I came to Welbeck. In our first training session we were all asked to choose whether we wanted to try out for the 1st Team or 2nd Team. I tried for the 2nd’s, but I was moved up to the 1st Team which is where I have been playing since. Playing with better players allowed my knowledge of the game to improve along with my skill. Now I actually understand the rules!! On Sunday 11th December our girls rugby team will be playing their first match against a tea, called Jimmy’s Angels. Apparently Welbeck beat them last year, so let’s hope we get the same outcome!
Between the 25th- 27th November the Lower Sixth of the college were deployed on Exercise. Our destination was the training ground at RAF Cranwell, which was very exposed and windy! All of us were equipped with Bergens, webbing, L98 Rifles (most were blocked with concrete because we haven’t passed our WHT’s yet!) and helmets, in total we all guessed that our kit was between 20-25 Kg, that is almost half my body weight! We carried our rifles EVERYWHERE with us, we ate with it, we slept with it, we also went to the toilet with it, which being female is somewhat challenging when you can’t be bothered to trek to the port-a-loo’s!!
On the Friday we arrived while it was dark, tabbed (fast walk with Bergens) about 1.5 Km to our harbour area (the area in which we sleep). We set up our bashers, cooked our food and went to sleep. I think I got a good 9 hours sleep in preparation for Saturday.
On Saturday we woke up, took down our bashers, had breakfast then tabbed to our briefing where our admin was checked (changed socks, clean mess tins, water bottle full etc). We met the currently serving personnel who would guide us through the weekend, some were REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), others were Royal Engineers, etc. We then had a full day of learning field craft such as cam and concealment, movement, bearings & directions, patrolling, setting up harbour areas and we were also shown how to do the assault course, all in preparation for that evening and the following day. The Saturday evening was tactical, this means we did a 24 hour Night Exercise. At our harbour areas we had STAG points (look-out points); these were manned in one hour slots for 12 hours. My STAG was from 1800-1900hrs and then 0500-0600hrs. That evening we also patrolled the area, my Section was sent on a Recci (Reconnaissance mission) between 2200-0000hrs to identify where a missing person was. We trekked what felt like 5-7 Km across the North airfield at RAF Cranwell. 5 Km is easy to run or walk, however we had all our kit, apart from our Bergens, so it was quite tough. When we got back to our harbour we got some well earned shut eye. After my STAG, at about 0615hrs we were awoken by screaming and shouting along the lines of ‘THERE WILL BE AN AIR STRIKE IN 15 MINUTES, YOU MUST EVACUATE YOUR HARBOUR AREA’ while launching glow sticks at us! We all grabbed our kit and went to our meeting point, where we had breakfast and sorted out our admin.
The Sunday was competition day, all 6 Platoons, I was in 2 Platoon, competed to win the Platoon competition, with the grand prize of a packet of Monster Munch each! The competition consisted of a 2.5 mile stretcher run, 6 people in the Platoon needed to be carrying a Bergen (this switched around), otherwise all our Bergens were left at the start along with our rifles (this was the only time I left my rifle), we had to go and pick up a stretcher and then a 50kg casualty (a dummy) and run back with it. It was really tough, but it was unbelievable how much we had bonded as a team, the morale throughout Sunday, amongst my Platoon, was amazing! When we got back, we had a short break to make a brew and then we were launched straight into a very physically demanding obstacle course, we completed this in our Sections. The course consisted of some quite challenging walls along with rope swings and high bridges. At about 1400hrs we returned back to college, I have never been so grateful for a shower and a real toilet in my life! I felt sorry for the coach drivers who had to put up with the smell of all of us on their coaches!!!
The result of Exercise Start was that everyone passed in, I now wear my RAF Uniform with pride on parade and around college!!
Throughout the year we have inter-house competitions, this means each house competes with each other for a cup at the end of the year, these can be sporting, academic or musical. I have recently competed in the Inter-house hockey, my house won! We also have a singing competition coming up called house shout, my house is singing ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, and it actually sounds pretty good! But I guess that’s quite a bias opinion!! All the houses are extremely competitive with each other, in total at the moment my house is currently 2nd.
‘Socials’ at Welbeck are really important, they allow people to just relax as it can be quite a stressful environment. So far, there has been a UV Rave, a Christmas party called the Snowball and my house celebrated Trafalgar night, we also have house socials. The UV Rave was pretty crazy, it was the entire college in our social club (the Quorum), loud music and lots of colour. One of the lads in my house crowd surfed 8 times!! The Snowball, however, was slightly calmer and more sophisticated, we had a Christmas dinner followed by music from a couple of bands, and the dancing wasn’t as crazy as it was at the UV Rave but it was still a brilliant night! Trafalgar night was a very formal mess dinner, this allows us to know what it’s like for the future, because as Officers we will have to attend quite a few!!
With the lead up to Christmas, we are all excited to come home. Most of us have Advent calendars, apart from my friend Ellie who ate hers before December because she was hungry, and we also have Christmas decorations in our rooms and in the common room. The college is also all lit up with Christmas lights, it looks really nice.