Guest lecturer visits team this evening ; Long time team supporter and very valued friend Al Sylvester MBE RAF Retired

This evening we were honoured to have as our guest at our weekly meeting, recently retired former RAF Warrant Officer Al Sylvester MBE.

Al arrived at our Ladybridge Hall Base / HQ in the company of team friend Diane Blakeley at 19.30hrs and quickly renewed past friendships with those team members who still remember with fondness the halcyon days of past joint exercises and the memorable post exercise socials with Al Sylvester during his many tenancies with RAF MRT Stafford (now long disbanded)

Al attended and gave a presentation on his Southern Reach Antarctica Expedition of November / December 2006.

In his usual enthusiastic and very humorous style, Al described setting off from Patriot Hills and the subsequent 600 nautical mikes route tot he South Pole, with three other RAF colleagues.

Very close to the South Pole their expedition was cut short through illness of one team member, with all four being airlifted to the South Pole Research Station.

Al then went on to describe how as a result of unfortunately getting frostbite on this expedition, he lost both thumbs, and then went on to describe the operation to transplant both his two big toes to provide him with new thumbs, sadly this transplant was not successful.


Al who spent a large part of his career in the RAF with the RAF Mountain Rescue Service, starting off as a WOP (Wireless Operator) then as a Deputy Team Leader, and a Team Leader with teams such as RAF MRT Stafford and RAF MRT Kinloss, ended his presentation with a brief outline of his last posting as College Warrant Officer at the UK Defence Academy, prior to his retirement from the RAF recently.

He marked his retirement in typical fashion, by walking from Lands End to John O Groats recently (as we reported within our website), 881 miles in 39 days, all to raise funds for Prospect Hospice, Swindon, both to honour a friend who sadly passed away in their treatment, but also to raise awareness of the wonderful and dedicated help all hospices give.

At the conclusion of Al’s excellent, thought provoking, very informative and inspiring presentation, the team members present (28x call Out list and 6x probationary members) held an impromptu collection for Prospect Hospice.

Al then adjourned to Bobs Smithy Public House, where again with past friends there was much reminiscing (and old men putting the world to rights) and some new friends made by Al.