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JHSS marks 35 years with a Royal Visit

Joint Helicopter Support Squadron (JHSS) celebrated its 35year anniversary this year and to mark the occasion it welcomed Her Royal Highness Princess Anne who visited in her role as Colonel-in-Chief of The RLC.

During the visit on 31 Oct, Her Royal Highness was joined by The Corps Colonel of The RLC, Colonel Colin Francis, and the Corps Adjutant, Major Mark Pasalk, who were welcomed by Major Tom Shaw, Officer Commanding JHSS, and Group Captain Hamish Cormack, Station Commander.

Following a Squadron photo and short overview of the Station, the 90-minute visit incorporated a walk through of three capability stands manned by officers, soldiers and airmen, as well as a role demonstration.

Ably supported by a Chinook and Puma, the demonstration displayed the basic soldiering skills needed in order to secure and prepare the Helicopter Landing Site for the rigging of a selection of underslung loads.

Her Royal Highness seemed suitably impressed and ensured the team were kept on their toes by asking copious questions. She was particularly interested in the support the team gave to helicopter operations in the Caribbean during Operation RUMAN.

During the visit, squadron personnel and their families were lucky enough to spend some time with the Princess, who was very interested in meeting everyone involved.  HRH left by Royal Flight S76 to her next engagement at Buckingham Palace with a smile on her face and a bouquet of flowers presented by MACr Gareth Attridge’s six-year-old twins, Harry and Sophie.

“The visit went extremely well. Her Royal Highness left with a firm understanding of the support that JHSS provides and the different levels of readiness that we operate at, not only in the UK but worldwide,” said Major Tom Shaw, Officer Commanding JHSS.

JHSS was initially formed in Jul 1982 for one purpose; to support Mk 1 Chinook helicopters in Falkland’s war to support Ground Troops. It continues to support the British Forces in the South Atlantic Islands, with Helicopter Handling Teams being front and centre in the Falkland Islands.

On 1 Jul this year, past and present members of the Squadron reunited in celebration of the anniversary. Staff Sergeant Rob Punchard from The RLC flawlessly executed the event which included stands showing the capabilities of the Squadron along with a Mk 6 Chinook and a Formula 1 race car.

The anniversary also included talks from previous members of JHSS, in particular a member of the then Joint Helicopter Support Unit and his experiences whilst deployed to the Falklands War.

Over the 35 years the Squadron has been established, it has supported the UK Armed Forces across the globe and as such has been integral to operations and exercises alike. JHSS has continued to be busy time since its move to RAF Benson.

The Squadron has supported exercises and operations across the UK, Norway, Germany, Afghanistan, Canada and the USA, plus the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Pakistan and Op RUMAN.

The Royal Logistic Corps

The Lifetime Achievement award goes to....Lt Col Fiona Gordon’s sporting career spans nearly 30 years where she has represented both the RLC and Army, as well as her running club, at cross country, athletics and trail running. Such achievements are worthy of recognition but, equally impressive, has been her dedication, energy and leadership that has inspired, encouraged, and mentored hundreds of athletes, particularly women, to participate in sport. These factors epitomise the very essence of the Lifetime Achievement Award.During her career Col Fiona has won over 60 individual titles (from unit to national master’s level) in all running disciplines ranging from 400m to an 86-mile ultra-marathon; as well as multi-terrain duathlons. In her younger years, she was twice selected to represent the Army at the Inter-Services, at a time when there was only one team of six. As a Corps sportswoman, there can’t be many (if any) athletes who, not only still finish in the top five in their Corps, but then go on to represent their Corps at the Inter-Corps Championships every time. Perhaps equally unique, she is also possibly one of the few left in the Corps that were awarded their Corps colours (for both cross country and athletics) following its formation in 1993. And, remarkably at age 51 she still finished 4th RLC female at the Corps and Inter Corps Championships. ... See MoreSee Less
The Hemming Belt is awarded to.....This season has been a Royal performance from LCpl Megan Reid culminating in her being crowned as the Scottish National Champion. She began boxing after joining The RLC in 2013 and she won an RLC title in her first season as a boxer. Thereafter, she entered the Army Individuals' Championships that same year where her natural talent shone through and she was crowned champion. Given her Scottish heritage, the following season she entered the Scottish Championships, and was narrowly beaten in the final, no mean feat for her third boxing season. Her performance in the final was outstanding and resulted in her first international call up, representing Scotland in the Great Britain Championships. LCpl Reid returned to the English Championships in 2017, this time going one step further and gaining a Silver medal. Since then she has represented The RLC, Army, UK Armed Forces and Scotland at the highest level in the European Championships and twice at the World Championships. LCpl Reid has represented the Corps and the Army with a style that most boxers and other sportsmen and sportswomen aspire. She is a credit to her Unit, The RLC and the Army and a role model for all aspiring athletes and soldiers. She has achieved so much in such a short space of time where, looking to the future, her Gold at her National Championships means that she is the unrivalled queen of RLC Boxing and is duly nominated for the award of the Hemming Belt. ... See MoreSee Less
The Lifetime achievement award goes to.....Cpl Keleni Drummond has been a Corps and Army sportswoman since she joined the Army in 2001 at the age of 21. Her military sporting career began on the Rugby pitch, but it did not take long for Basketball and Netball players to scout her for their respective teams; she has played all three sports at Corps level from inception. By the time of her assignment to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment in 2007, Cpl Drummond had represented the Army at Rugby, Netball and Basketball. Sadly, during an Army Rugby fixture against the Farnborough Women's Team she was badly injured and had to take a break from the pitch to focus on rehabilitation. Dedicated and focused to recuperate, by 2009 she was back fighting fit and switched her focus to both Netball and Basketball. Cpl Drummond’s sporting successes are numerous and varied where, in addition to representing the UK Armed Forces Basketball Team from 2016 - 2018, she captained the Corps Netball Team from 2012 - 2014 leading the RLC to Inter-Corps victory three years in a row, including representing the Army during this period. In spite of her previous injury Cpl Drummond put her rugby boots back on in 2019 to re-join the Corps Team in winning the Inter-Corp Rugby 10s, 15s and the Palestine Cup. She continued her successful leadership streak and captained the Army Masters Netball Team to success at the 2020 Inter-Services Championships. Corporal Drummond is one of the most decorated multi-sport sportswomen in the Corps. In her 20-year career to date she has competed at Regimental level in countless sports, but has truly flourished as a Corps, Army and UKAF player in Rugby, Netball and Basketball. Cpl Drummond represents the very best of her generation and fully deserves recognition for The RLC Sports Awards Outstanding Achievement category. ... See MoreSee Less