Chopper visit gives different view of job market

Milford Mercury: MEET THE CREW: Nirvana Thomas, Cerys Radcliffe and Ryan Beckerleg representing Milford Haven sixth form, with Petty Officer aircraft engineer Dai Williams, observer Rich Bell, pilot Lee Holburn and leading air engineering technician (mechanical) Clay Clay MEET THE CREW: Nirvana Thomas, Cerys Radcliffe and Ryan Beckerleg representing Milford Haven sixth form, with Petty Officer aircraft engineer Dai Williams, observer Rich Bell, pilot Lee Holburn and leading air engineering technician (mechanical) Clay Clay

MILFORD Haven School’s football pitch became a makeshift helipad on Tuesday, when a Royal Navy helicopter landed in the grounds.

Welsh Baccalaureate students were able to quiz the flight crew of the Lynx mark-8 helicopter, which is used to save lives at sea and combat terrorism.

With its on-board winch, the chopper is always equipped for search and rescue missions, on top of its usual role fighting terrorism, drugs and fraud.

And its highly-trained crew often have to juggle two or three roles, depending on what the situation calls for, said Petty Officer aircraft engineer Dai Williams.

“In a search and rescue mission, an engineer will often having to change jobs mid-flight, and go from making mechanical decisions to operating the winch,” he said.

Mr Williams said he knew he wanted to work with aircraft from a young age.

“After a lot of research I realised the military was where I needed to be to be on the cutting edge of technology,” he said.

Leading air engineering technician (mechanical) Clay Clayton, who signed up aged 16, said school visits not only help publicise the often-overlooked air arm of the Navy, but are also a great way to recruit.

“It’s hard work, but there are benefits. You get to travel the world and see some amazing places,” added flight observer Rich Bell.

But, despite making great strides to attract more women, and offering opportunities to gain qualifications, the Navy might not suit everyone.

“Being versatile is essential. You have to be willing to move at a moment’s notice and always have a bag packed. You could get a call and have to go away for six months with just a fortnight’s notice,” he said.

Welsh Baccalaureate Coordinator Rodney Davis said the visit – which concludes a week of work-related activities for Year 10 students - was a real success.

“This is a brilliant experience for students, not just to see the helicopter and talk to the crew, but also to find out more about the Royal Navy as a potential career,” he said.

“Things like this make them more aware about job opportunities, to see what’s out there and think ‘I can do that’.”

“It also helps them to better understand how their education relates to the job market.

“I’m trying to raise their expectations out of life and get them to go for it.”

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