Visit to RNAS Yeovilton, HMS Heron

On Friday the 7th June 13 liverymen and their guests including our Master and his Consort Seana reported to HMS Heron to spend the day with Navy Wings and 825 NAS our affiliated helicopter squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset.

After an initial briefing by Commander Ben Dando C.O. of 825 NAS we were whisked across the vast airfield to the south side and the HQ of Navy Wings which is headed up by Cdre (rtd) Jock Alexander OBE and a liveryman, to spend the morning learning about the heritage aircraft which are kept here and regularly flown at displays nationally.

The livery team being briefed in the Navy Wings Hangar by Jock Alexander

The star of the fleet is undoubtedly the Fairey Swordfish aka as “The String Bag” and which saw action throughout the Second World War .It has recently been taking part in the 80th anniversary of the D Day landings.

The legendary Swordfish and the only one flying in the world.

We were then transported to 825 NAS hangar on the Northwest side of the airfield for lunch and to be met by Ben Dando and some his team including student pilots .Ben then gave us a briefing on the history and strategic background to 825’s current role in the Navy. It clearly demonstrated the importance of the modern Navy and Air Arm to the security of our nation. After this we visited the maintenance area to examine a Wildcat Helicopter, which along with the Merlin, are the mainstays of the Navy’s aerial fleet. We had some of its amazing technology explained.

The livery team at the Wildcat maintenance area with C.O. Ben Dando (back row 3rd from the right)

This was followed by a visit to the simulator area of the base where under the tender eyes of Knotty, four of us attempted to fly a Wildcat and land it successfully, only the Master succeeded!

The Master congratulated by Knotty on his successful simulator landing.

After pre-prandial drinks in the Torque Split bar, a splendid dinner with lovely wines organised by liveryman Matthew Russell and our 825 liaison followed in the Southwick Room, hosted by HMS Heron’s Commanding Officer, Duncan Thomas who is also a liveryman.

Our thanks go to all the team at HMS Heron, particularly to Jock Alexander at Navy Wings, Cdr Ben Dando, Cpt. Duncan Thomas, Lt Cdr Adam Prevett , Lt Cdr Amy Grey, Lt Cdr Clive Knott, Lt Annabel Vose, Lt Adam Armstrong and all the 825 pilots, students and maintenance crews for such a splendid and interesting day and evening. Our affiliation with 825 NAS is an important part of The Distillers’ engagement with both the community at large but also with our ever important Military Services, long may it continue.

Chris Nadin
Chairman SW Region WCD