815 Helicopter Squadron – “Return to Base Challenge”

Our affiliated active Naval unit, 815 Wildcat Helicopter Squadron based at Yeovil decided to carry out an exercise where four of their members, led by a young officer, are deposited at an unknown destination in the UK and told to get to Yeovil. The catch is that whilst they are allowed to retain their clothes, they have no money and no access to a mobile telephone. They have to beg or borrow everything. The team was dropped at Newcastle Hospital helipad on Wednesday 25 March 2015.
Upon hearing about this exercise, it was agreed that the WCB should try and assist them, both in providing shelter and food. Charity is a major part of a Livery Company’s activities.
Fortunately sleeping at Bakers Hall on the floor was not required as they managed to negotiate luxury hotel rooms in the City, in exchange for singing nautical songs in the dining room – rumour has it they only knew “Hearts of Oak”!
Their day with us started at 8.00am, when the Lord Mayor had very kindly agreed to start his day early to show them the Mansion House; he was accompanied by Sheriff Fiona Adler, and following the current Lord Mayor’s family background the sailors were delighted to see several model ships appearing in the Mansion House.
The WCB presented some doughnuts with the crests of both the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs cast in icing on them – both were extremely pleased for a little extra sustenance and the ingenuity of the Bakers!
After this a quick hop to Smithfield saw the Company providing breakfast for the team in a pub at the market.
We had arranged hard work to follow as they were off to a major City company where they sold doughnuts (with their Squadron logo iced on) to the traders and staff to raise funds for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines charity. The sailors managed to extract £10 per doughnut from the staff adding over £2,000 to their charity fund.
Buckets bulging - next stop the bank to pay in several hundred pounds of coin – how to be popular in the City at midday!!!
The next stop was St Paul’s where a private tour and a photo opportunity in front of Nelson’s tomb had been arranged; after that we said goodbye to the team from 815 who were pointed in the direction of Yeovil.  However, when they arrived back at Yeovil they were to find 200 Cornish Pasties for the Squadron waiting for them, courtesy of a member of the Company.
Please see information sent out by email on 27th April of a special visit open to all Liverymen (but restricted numbers, so first come, first served) to spend a day – 8th May - at Yeovil with 815, certainly involving the simulator or a ride in a Lynx.
Colin Sach
Military Liaison