The Air League Annual Reception 2017


Tuesday 30th May 2017 at St James’ Palace, In the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was our Annual Reception.

A number of individuals and organisations were recognised for their remarkable achievements, with a series of awards presented by The Duke of Edinburgh, our Patron.

Chairman Christopher Walkinshaw with The Patron, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Our Annual Reception is also an occasion where certificates and badges are awarded to scholarship and bursary recipients in the presence of sponsors, family and friends.

2017 celebrates 65 years of patronage for His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Christopher Walkinshaw – Chairman of the Council addressed the reception.

Your Royal Highness, we are as always honoured and delighted that you have been The Air League’s very active and enthusiastic Patron for 65 years and we are particularly grateful to you for making the arrangements once again for us to use St. James’s Palace.  Your support and Patronage of The Air League provides tremendous encouragement and pleasure to us all.

Over the past 65 years The Duke of Edinburgh as our Patron has overseen and supported our work and achievements. His association with the League has helped thousands of young people in the UK towards a career in aviation. The Air League thanks His Royal Highness for his continued and future support as Patron.


The Air League Awards 2017


Miss Claire Stoll 

The Evelyn Saunders Memorial Cup which is presented to a female pilot annually. This year the award goes to Claire Stoll. Claire is currently learning to fly helicopters in Florida.


Mr Gary Robertson

The Billy Deacon Award which is sponsored by Bristow Helicopters in memory of Billy Deacon who lost his life whilst engaged on air sea rescue operations.

On the 9th April 2016, Gary Robertson, winchman on board the Coastguard helicopter ‘Rescue 118’, based at Sligo in Ireland, was scrambled to a report of a capsized vessel and a person in the water near Arranmore Island, 60 miles North West of Sligo. The Arranmore all-weather lifeboat had arrived on scene but was unable to affect a safe rescue due to the extreme sea state and building surf. On arrival the fishing vessel had already sunk and the casualty was seen to be clinging to a life buoy with his left arm. With waves repeatedly crashing onto the casualty, frequently submerging him, it was clear that a swift rescue was required to save this fisherman’s life. Robertson was deployed to the scene and, as he approached through heavy seas, it quickly became apparent that the rescue would be more complex than anticipated. The casualty, unable to release the life buoy as his left arm was in spasm, also had thick rope wrapped three or four times around his body. This in turn was still tethered to the submerged boat. As the winchman battled to secure the casualty in the rescue strops they were both constantly submerged. Using his knife, Robertson cut the ropes, which were now under tension, enabling him and the casualty to swing free and be recovered to the aircraft. En route to hospital Robertson realised the severity of the casualty’s condition: semi-conscious, frothing at the mouth and cyanosed. With the assistance of his winch operator, immediate life-saving medical care was administered. Despite the casualty’s condition on arrival, the hospital team was able to treat him successfully. Displaying extraordinary operating skill and courage, Gary Robertson’s actions resulted in this casualty’s life being saved, and he is richly deserving of the Billy Deacon Search and Rescue Memorial Trophy.


Mr Rasheed Graham


 Miss Lauren Richardson

Lauren is a young air display pilot who flies her Pitts Special at air displays throughout the United Kingdom during the summer season and in between flying Lauren, who also undertakes her own maintenance on her aircraft, has become deeply involved with STEM and the Amy Johnson Project and regularly visits schools to provide motivating talks to young people, particularly girls, encouraging them into careers in aviation.  She is a highly dedicated and strongly motivated young woman who has particularly encouraged young people who do not come from a privileged or affluent background into aviation, and is awarded a Framed Address.

Mr Mark Swann

Mark has done a huge amount for the United Kingdom and international aviation and aerospace regulation in various senior roles in the Civil Aviation Authority and is a champion for supporting and increasing the role and extent of general aviation in the UK.  He has gained a reputation as being a tough, but scrupulously fair, regulator and is strongly supportive of providing increased opportunities for young people to enter into careers in aviation.  Mark Swann is awarded a Framed Address.


Dr Francesca de Florio

Francesca has been engaged in a wide variety of STEM topics over the last ten years and has been a very active Air League Trustee in which she has represented some of the interests of Boeing in UK schools and in the Royal Aeronautical Society.  For her considerable energy and success in encouraging young people, particularly females, into aviation, Francesca de Florio is awarded a Presidential Meritorious Service Award.

Mr Andrew Perkins

Andrew was an Air League scholar and gliding instructor before becoming a commercial pilot and he now flies Boeing 777’s with British Airways.  He took over leadership of the Youth in Aviation Sub-Committee of The Air League in 2011 which he developed into a robust young peoples’ organisation now know as “The Leading Edge” where his energy and enthusiasm for encouraging young people into aviation has been boundless.  For his considerable work as an Air League Trustee Andrew Perkins is awarded a Presidential Meritorious Service Award.


The British Gliding Association

Founded in 1929 the British Gliding Association is the governing body for the sport of gliding in the United Kingdom and represents and provides strong support for over 8,500 glider pilots.  In recent years the British Gliding Association has pursued an increasingly active programme in encouraging young people to become involved in gliding and more young people are engaged in gliding than ever before.  This particularly includes a number of Air Cadets under arrangements agreed and approved by the Air Cadet Organization.  In recognition of its vigorous campaign to encourage young people into gliding and subsequent careers in aviation, the British Gliding Association is awarded the Scott Farnie Medal for its work in the field of air education.


The SkyDemon Team 

Since its inception just over five years ago, SkyDemon has become one of Europe’s most popular and successful solutions for tablet based visual flight rules and flight planning, and through its constantly evolving software programmes and processes has made and continues to make a major contribution to the education and airmindedness of pilots, which particularly includes young pilots in the UK.  The SkyDemon software and applications have also made a very significant contribution to safety, and for its work in the field of encouraging airmindedness, SkyDemon is awarded the Quill Medal for 2017.


Boeing UK 

Boeing is engaged in an ongoing and concentrated community programme which engages with schools, universities and young people across the spectrum of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the stated aim of preparing students to shape innovation during the next 100 years.  In the United Kingdom this robust programme has been multi-faceted with strong engagement involving all of the major professional bodies and societies as well as by the company investing to demonstrate how science and engineering can solve real life problems.  For its major contribution and concerted efforts in the UK in a wide variety of activities, Boeing is awarded The Air League Founders Medal.


Mr Matthew Wong

Awarded for exceptional support of The Air League from a previous scholarship recipient. The Marshall Medal which this year is awarded to the chairman of the Air League Leading Edge, Mr Matthew Wong.

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