Celebrating Excellence – Awards for the Royal Signals

September and October have been busy months for our relationship with the Royal Signals and, in particular, the presentation of awards recognising both the technical and military skills across the Corps.

The “awards season” kicked off on 22 September with the Apprentice of the Year Awards across the six trade groups, together with an overall Apprentice of the Year being recognised.  The awards were presented by Brigadier Mark Purves representing the Master of Signals.  The WCIT was pleased to reinstate the use of its Apprentice Medal, which this year went to Lance Corporal Connelly (30SR) as Information Services Apprentice of the Year, seen below with Brigadier Purves and our relationship Manager, Court Assistant Nicholas Claydon.

A week later Past Master Mark Holford was in Blandford for a long but very enjoyable day listening to the end of course presentations from the 2022 Yeoman of Signals Course.

The winning syndicate, seen below with Past Master Holford, consisted of (l to r) Staff Sergeant (Yeoman of Signals) Scott, Staff Sergeant (Yeoman of Signals) Clarke and

Colour Sergeant (Yeoman of Signals) Hughes [Royal Marines].  The Executive Summary of their project demonstrates the many disciplines acquired across the course and reads:

“Project CLEAR COMMUNICATOR’s (CC) purpose was to revise and release the outdated Land Component Handbook (Voice Communications Procedures) (LCH (VCP)), with up-to-date and relevant information. The previous version of this handbook was released in 2001. Communications procedures have changed drastically since this due to developments in digital and encrypted communication means. The aim of this document is to provide a comprehensive description of the project and to outline the stages used to manage it, from research and analysis, to editing and design. This report will elaborate on the use of the PRINCE2 methodology. The aim of Project CC was achieved in part thanks to discussions about continued business justification and by learning from previous similar projects.”

The day concluded with Past Master Holford being invited to say a few words about our affiliation with the Corps at the end of course dinner.

The following week, in all likelihood, provided greatest visibility to the Company in terms of our active affiliation with the Royal Signals.  This was the recognition of Corporal (now Sergeant) Russel Richard at our Installation Dinner on 5 October; a worthy recipient of the ‘Through’ Award for his “tenacity and technical proficiency … by adopting an innovative approach to solving engineering challenges” in direct support to Operation PITTING, the evacuation at Kabul Airport”.

Guests from the Corps at the Installation Dinner also included Lt Col John Walton (the new Commanding Officer of 11 (Royal School of Signals) Signal Regiment). The Regiment delivers the majority of initial and advanced technical and leadership training to the Royal Signals, and elements of communications management to all parts of the Army.

The Master also welcomed Col (Retired) Andrew Percival, the new Director of the Royal Signals Institution. The RSI provides the primary conduit for the WCIT affiliation to the Corps and promotes and facilitates the mentoring and career transition schemes offered by the WCIT.

Last, but definitely not least, the Master attended the annual Gordon’s Cup on Saturday 21 October as a guest of Lt Col Walton.  The weather this year was certainly better for the spectators but did not reduce in any way the challenges faced by the teams from 11SR and the guest team of signallers from the German Army.

The day saw the teams undertake a wide range of military skills tests along with more technical challenges.  On arrival, the Master watched two teams dealing with a colleague with hypothermia as part of a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape challenge.  The decision not to offer the Master a chance to join the teams in their ‘bush tucker trial’ was more than offset by the lunch of venison slow braised in an earth oven!  There followed some vocal support for the Troop Commanders team and the German visitors in their head-to-head race – a small matter of a 1.5km run carrying a 100kg pole.

Viewing the field scenario, where a patrol was called on to deal with multiple civilian casualties in the face of strong opposition, brought home that, whilst training to be technical experts all the trainees are first and foremost soldiers who are called on to act in very hostile environments.  This was very much reinforced watching the teams complete the bayonet course.  A high adrenaline but disciplined event involving pushing through a physically demanding environment whilst identifying targets and using bayonets with controlled aggression.

In absence of a shooting event the WCIT cup was presented to the Best Section Commander.  The Master can be seen below presenting the cup to Corporal Hawkes.

The day drew to a close with the opportunity to meet many of the Directing Staff in the Royal Signals’ Warrant Officers’ and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers’ Mess whilst enjoying a BBQ and a beer courtesy of our German comrades. The Master will next engage the Corps at its Institution’s annual London Dinner and Lecture, to be held at the Institute of Directors, Pall Mall on 26 January 2023.  The principal host is Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith, the Master of Signals and Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and the keynote address will be delivered by General Sir Jim Hockenhull KBE ADC Gen who is the Commander of UK Strategic Command.  During the evening General Sharon will present her own high level annual awards to recognise the extraordinary individual contribution of deserving soldiers and officers in the Royal Corps of Signals.