Q+A with a Military Volunteer in Lincolnshire
“Volunteering with JET is a great opportunity to set an example for future generations and hopefully develop their own skills and confidence which will set them up in life.”
Over the past decade, volunteers from our national network of corporate and military partners have stepped forward to support the work of the Jon Egging Trust.
The support from our volunteers is essential in demonstrating the breadth of careers and experiences available to our young people, whilst the volunteers also serve as inspirational role models for our students.
We recently caught up with John, who volunteers with Blue Skies students in Lincolnshire at RAF Coningsby, to get his thoughts on volunteering with JET.
What made you want to get involved with JET?
Before joining the RAF, when I was at university, I was involved in youth engagement work and found it incredibly rewarding, enjoyable and possibly most importantly – fun! I have colleagues who had been supporters during previous JET programmes and spoke highly of it, and I wanted to get involved again with an organisation which focuses on supporting students, drawing out skills they might have been unaware they had, and helping them for the future.
Describe a typical day volunteering with JET and the sorts of activities you lead?
A day we have got planned to come revolves around seeing if the students can produce a new design for the Typhoon display jet. They will get to come to RAF Coningsby and be shown around one of the jets by the display pilot and have a sit in the cockpit and have a feel for what it is like to be in the driving seat! Afterwards, they will go over to one of the Station’s classrooms and take part in some leadership and teamwork activities where they will have to work together to produce a new paint scheme. Activities can range from learning how to survive in the wild as a team and developing their bushcraft skills, to how to plan and operate in a busy kitchen making food for the Station Commander!
Describe a situation where you feel that you, or the activities you have led, have made a real difference to the confidence and outlook of one of the young people you have supported?
Recently, we took the students on a visit to the Red Arrows display team at RAF Waddington. On the TV we usually just see the end state which nine pilots in red flying suits conducting their world-class display, but here they also got to see and learn about the rest of the team behind the scenes that are critical to making it happen; from engineers making sure the ejector seat works to the photographer who films the rehearsal flights so the pilots can see where they went wrong in the debrief. The students saw how every one of them had an incredibly important part to play, and without them the display sequence would not be possible.
Do you have any advice for people interested in volunteering? What would you say to anyone considering applying to be a volunteer with JET?
If you want to be involved in directly improving people’s lives both in the here and now and in the future, then I would thoroughly recommend it. Everyone in the RAF comes from a vast range of pasts and backgrounds so it’s a great opportunity to set an example for future generations and hopefully develop their own skills and confidence which will set them up in life.
Has being a volunteer for JET impacted you in any way? For example, have you learnt anything about yourself?
I’m still a teenager at heart so it’s still strange being referred to as the responsible adult by the students! It’s also improved my ability to think on my feet and be flexible as no session pans out exactly as you have planned!
Thank you so much to John, and all our military supporters for the vital work you do with our young people, and for working so hard to inspire the next generation.
If you would like to get involved in supporting JET and our students as an inspirational volunteer, please head to https://www.joneggingtrust.org.uk/volunteer/