Written by Senior Aircraftwoman Anastasia Arnold
Senior Aircraftwoman Anastasia Arnold reflects on her first year as a Part Time Volunteer Reserve musician in the Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
December 31st 2019. New Year’s resolution? Do the things you keep saying you want to do! Well, I always wanted to be in the RAF but the advice given to me as a teenager was, "go to music college."
So I did…then Kenya…then children…then back to the UK…and finally, I’m here!
The initial hurdle for me was the Pre-Joining Fitness Test. Being able to do the press-ups, laughable as it may sound and oh….the multi-stage fitness test (or ‘bleep’ test as it is more colloquially known) – eek! I persevered and got to the required standard.
Pre Basic Recruitment Training was my first experience of inspections, drill and wearing military uniform – that was exciting, except on the first night when, being a little over zealous, I stayed up until midnight ironing!
There were six of us on the course and we had the best of times, learning the history, ethos and expectations of being a member of the RAF. We all enjoyed it immensely. The staff were so supportive and prepared us well for the next stage Basic Recruit Training at RAF Halton. Another set of challenges awaited us there and we were fortunate that all but one of us were booked onto the same course.
With positive attitudes and an eagerness to learn we all made it through the two weeks. The final day was a very proud moment for us; all that we had achieved; the individual challenges we had faced, both physical and mental – we had done it. We left Halton with many more new friends and, despite following completely different trades, we are still in touch every week, testament to the team spirit and camaraderie that the RAF is known for.
Since then I have had the pleasure of playing at Squadron dinners and supporting the regular bands both on the concert platform and on parade. Last week I had the privilege of playing for the Modular Initial Officer Training Course graduation on my home unit of RAF College Cranwell. My latest assignment this week….recording for a social media project.
There is such a strong sense of purpose within the RAF and it’s a hugely positive environment to work in... I had not expected to be involved in so much so soon and I am absolutely loving it.