Reach for the stars – JET Annual Dinner 2022

Reach for the stars - JET Annual Dinner 2022

The 2022 JET Annual Dinner took place last Friday 5th Nov, at the National Space Centre in Leicester. As ever, our gala dinner was an opportunity to celebrate the support that we and our young people receive from a dedicated army of volunteers, and corporate and military partners across the UK.

Design for life

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who joined us for the evening, hosted by our CEO, Dr Emma Egging, and our Patrons, Air Marshal (Ret’d) Sir Stuart Atha and Air Marshal Harv Smyth.

A special mention too to our fabulous Youth Ambassador, Josh Dale, for the inspiring account of his experiences during Blue Skies and his incredible subsequent journey to gaining a First Class Honours Degree in Product Design, and his recent win at this year’s international Royal Society of Arts Student Design Awards.

Josh’s final quote is a mantra we should all try to live by: “JET made me realise that life throws you lots of curve balls, and that’s okay. You catch the ones that matter!”

Time to shine

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of our three perpetual trophies which were awarded to very worthy winners by Spike Jepson, Vice President of Flight Operations for our headline sponsor, Draken. Sincere congratulations to:

The full citations, which were read out at the dinner for each of our awards winners, are copied below.

JET Team of the Year 2022

This organisation has worked with JET since 2014, initially supporting the delivery of Blue Skies at RAF Waddington. Since 2014, this organisation has grown to become one of JET’s biggest corporate partners, continuing to support our programmes on the ground, and also – since 2018 – sponsoring 20 of our students to attend life-changing space camps in America and at RAF Cosford here in the UK.    

 Over the past year we have worked with this organisation to build space into our Blue Skies programmes across the UK and piloted the delivery of a project called STAARLite; an outreach aerospace-focussed programme for Yrs 6-8. In addition, this organisation donated a significant one-off funding contribution at the end of 2021 to enable the continued delivery of JET’s Blue Skies programmes across Lincolnshire, North Wales and Norfolk, and was the primary sponsor of our JET Space Forum in London last November.  

The Space Forum proved to be a pivotal moment for JET, enabling us to engage many of the UK’s leading space-sector minds in how we can maximise the sector’s potential to improve the life chances of disadvantaged young people.   

This organisation’s senior leadership team have significantly backed JET and our mission since 2014, and they should be celebrated as being pivotal to our ongoing success and growth as a charity. There have been countless occasions over the past eight years, when this organisation has gone above and beyond to support our team in unsung ways, including hosting our ongoing Space Forum Workshops in their offices in London.   

Winning this award will be a public acknowledgement of our gratitude to all at this organisation for their continued backing and unerring support.  

Congratulations Northrop Grumman, and thank you for continuing to believe in JET and our young people!  

JET Volunteer of the Year 2022

Whilst this award category is Volunteer of the Year, the person receiving this award has been a key volunteer, supporter, fundraiser and all-round advocate for JET for longer than most of the staff! 

After beginning his involvement hosting Blue Skies Sessions whilst in the RAF in Yorkshire, he moved to South to work for NATS, and since 2016 has been the lynchpin of our partnership with NATS and its crucial support of the Hampshire and Dorset programmes. 

Not only has he coordinated and hosted numerous visits to NATS’ Swanwick and CTC sites, inspiring our Blue Skies and BSIP students with a range of imaginative and engaging activities, and constantly evolving those sessions to meet JET’s outcomes, but he has also volunteered at countless school sessions across Dorset and Hampshire, where his delivery of Communication Skills has had a huge impact on our young people. Schools have huge respect for the way he works with the students, and at a recent CTC session the teacher commented on his exceptional manner with them. 

But his involvement with JET goes way beyond facilitating and volunteering at sessions. At NATS he is a brilliant advocate for JET, spreading the word to the staff, raising the profile of the charity and building an ever-growing team of volunteers and supporters. 

Outside of NATS, his contribution has ranged from introducing one of our patrons to the work of the Trust, to recording a video to encourage young people during lockdown, via supporting regularly at Bournemouth Air Festival and completing both the Great North and Great South Runs to fundraise on our behalf. 

I cannot even begin to count the hours that he has dedicated to JET over the last 10 years, but his support is invaluable to the success of our programmes in the South and particularly in Hampshire. He is unfailingly positive and enthusiastic, and our programmes are so much richer for his input. 

So, it is my very great pleasure to say huge and very well-deserved congratulations to our Volunteer of the Year – Martin Smith.

JET Unsung Hero of the Year 2022

The winners of this award are the brains behind JETRide, our flagship fundraising cycling event. 

They came up with the concept back in 2019 and have been running the event ever since. That’s despite a few obstacles along the way, such as a global pandemic which put a stop to most events. 

These volunteers put their heart and soul into organising JETRide; there’s the planning meetings, creating the routes, health and safety considerations, venue recces, trips to pick up food and drink for the feed stations, organising event volunteers, putting signs up across the route…. I could go on and on. 

The winners of this award make my job as Events Manager so much easier, it’s been such a pleasure working with them, when there’s an issue, they are quick to come up with solutions, their energy and enthusiasm is endless. 

These unsung heroes have created the foundation of a fantastic event, and I believe that JETRide will go from strength to strength in years to come thanks to them. 

So, if you haven’t guessed already, the winners of the Unsung Hero award are: Dunc Mason and Graham Pemberton. Unfortunately, neither of them could make it this evening so I’d like to ask Richard Peberdy, JET’s Chair of Trustees to the stage to collect the award on their behalf.