There are some days you know are just going to be stressful – you know, those days where you wake up knowing you’ve only got a half day in the office to get a week’s worth of work done and then you have to get all dressed up to head into town by train to visit St James’ Palace…
Ok so these days admittedly don’t happen too often, especially the being invited to reception evenings in Royal Palaces part. So what was it all about? Last year I was given a Flying Bursary by the Air League that went a long way toward my training for my first British Aerobatic Nationals, and also played a part in contributing toward my flying to gain my Display Authorisation. Receiving tangible financial support from fantastic organisations like these really does make a huge difference, and so it was with great pleasure that I headed down to London for the Air League’s annual reception to receive my Bursary Certificate.
Now I should just point out that I’m not entirely comfortable in formal scenarios – I’m a pilot, an engineer, an outdoors-woman. I don’t really do dresses! Hence I spent essentially the entire evening feeling mildly uncomfortable in my swish new dress and intensely uncomfortable in the heels I’d decided to wear – talk about painful! Little did I realise as I was drinking my champagne and nibbling away on the exquisite canapés that what I had assumed was the end of the certificate presentation ceremonies (where oddly I’d not actually been given a certificate – merely a handshake and a ‘well done’), was actually only half of the occasion. The reason I hadn’t been handed my paperwork became blindingly apparent when HRH the Duke of Edinburgh took to the rostrum to present a few additional awards – seemingly I was one of the ‘randomly selected’ five to be chosen to accept my award from the Duke himself.
I have to say all told, the evening was an incredible experience for me. Not only did I meet and shake hands with Royalty, but I met and talked with a large number of enthusiastic dignitaries, many old friends and also managed to drink half my own bodyweight in rather lovely champagne (I may be exaggerating slightly here).
For any of you who don’t know much about the Air League, I do encourage you to have a look at their website and perhaps become a member. They support youngsters in aviation in many ways every year, with scholarships for those wanting to learn to fly, to bursaries for flyers like me, who are looking to improve our skills and need the support to do so. There is also a tremendous social scene, with many exciting events organised throughout the year such as the Youth In Aviation Flying Day that was held at Bicester Airfield a few weekends ago (and where I did a bit of a display – take a look at the latest video on the videos tab).