Halton opens new Welfare House

Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller, National President of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA), visited RAF Halton 28 November in order to conduct the grand opening of the new Welfare Contact House on the Service Families Accommodation patch at Tedder Road.

Flight Sergeant Ellie Wileen, Station Community Support Officer, was instrumental in securing the house after long negotiations with The Defence Infrastructure Organisation. She said: “We took ownership of the house back in June. Jan Holdsworth and I applied to RAFA for funding to furnish the property with “proper furniture” rather than barrack stores issue. RAFA very generously gave us £5,000 towards the refurbishment after we submitted our wish list. A further £1,000 was added to the budget from the Welfare House Account. I am immensely proud of the efforts of the Contact House Committee who have worked so hard for this end product.”

During the opening ceremony, where Air Marshal Miller cut a ribbon, he said: “The Station Commander was right when he said about the difficulties of life that make a need for the Contact House. Thank you for the efforts, determination and hard work you have all put in. You can always ask RAFA for funds; you ask and we say yes, and then we work out how we can deliver.”

Station Community Support Clerk, Jan Holdsworth, explained the chain of events, saying: “Once the form and list of furniture and costings had been sent to RAFA, and the go ahead was given, it was all hands on deck to get this new house ready. Sgt Tony Hynes kindly took on the task of liaising with Argos Business Solutions and with his outstanding bartering skills managed to get us £5,000 worth of furniture for £3,900 which left us plenty in the pot for soft furnishings.

“Once the deliveries arrived, the Contact House Committee started the unenviable task of putting the flat pack furniture together, all of this mainly in their own time. My husband and I then spent many weekends travelling around purchasing all the extras, pictures, kitchen utensils, crockery, ornaments etc. We hung the pictures, set up the house and managed to get everything ready on time for the grand opening. This was no mean feat and this absolutely could not have been achieved without the help and support that we received from so many people. Helen Boyd, Area Delivery Manager for CarillionAmey and her works operatives have gone above and beyond anything I could have expected.

“This has been a very stressful and exhausting project and we have spent every minute of our own personal time in the evenings and weekends working at the Contact House, however, it has been such a fulfilling task and so satisfying knowing that we, as a committee, have produced and are providing such a high standard facility for our personnel here at RAF Halton. Detailed below are the people that OC PSF, Flt Lt Woodhouse, and I would personally like to thank for their input into ensuring our New Welfare House is the “home from home” vision I had from the start.”

CarillionAmey for all the repairs and help.

Workshops for producing the dedication plaque at very short notice.

MT for providing a vehicle to take copious amounts of packaging/rubbish to the skip.

Barrack Stores for providing the much-required bedding and stair-gates.

Argos Business Solutions for the generous discount provided.

Lisa Smith (Lisa’s Home Bakes) a wife of a Halton Serviceman, for making such an amazing cake with four days’ notice.

Station Commander, Group Captain Adrian Burns, said he felt: “Humbled by the work the Welfare Committee have done. I have been given a raft of information about what has been done and it is superb. To volunteer, you need the right money, the right motivation and the right engagement. Your effort and determination to put the extra hours in to put together flat pack furniture and build a home from scratch with the help of the Royal Air Force Association is superb.”

The welfare team are always after willing volunteers to help out when needed to make someone else’s crisis manageable by creating a home for them. If you want to help, please contact Flt Lt Paul Woodhouse on Ext 6470, Mrs Jan Holdsworth on Ext 6396 or Sgt Tony Hynes on Ext 7122.