The Last Days Of DSG – A post containing some photographs and my thoughts, from my last days with the Defence Support Group (DSG), at RAF St Athan.
Happy times with good friends, but the end of an era as the last aircraft to undergo a major servicing at St Athan leaves for France to be painted, before it’s return to its squadron at RAF Brize Norton.
After a long career in the RAF I eventually left in July 2002.
I’d finished my last tour with the RAF at St Athan in South Wales, and as one door closed another opened. I applied to join DSG shortly after my de-mob, and started the second leg of my aircraft engineering career.
I’d had about twelve years previous experience on the Harrier aircraft with the RAF, and for the first three years with DSG I was employed on the RAF and RN versions of the Harrier, until all the major servicing work was rolled forward to the front line Squadrons, at RAF Cottesmore and Wittering.
By this time some big changes were in the air, and by the summer of 2005 the UK government had decided to close DSG St Athan, threatening the jobs over 3000 highly skilled engineers.
This was a disgraceful decision, but the mismanagement of the closure by the MOD and Welsh Assembly, saw over £110 millon pounds of tax payers money being waisted, on a new ‘Super Hangar’ to house DSG , which to this day stands empty.
It’s rather ironic that the closure of St Athan was supposed to be a government cost saving exercise. It makes me wonder how the ministers involved managed to keep their jobs. The wrong people were made redundant in my opinion.
Anyway, at this time, I held the post of ‘Fast Jet Engineering Co-ordintator’, and was lucky to be offered a transfer to the VC10 maintenance department. The VC10’s out of service life had been extended because of the late delivery of a more modern aircraft for the RAF.
I accepted the opportunity, and spent my last three years with the Ministry Of Defence repairing the tailplanes on VC10 aircraft. Although I missed working on ‘Fast Jets’, I soon made some great friends and enjoyed the change of environment. It’s true, a change is as good as a rest.
The teams were larger, and the work load was not as heavy as in my previous job, and this period gave me some time to think about what I wanted to do with my life, after DSG eventually closed it’s doors.
I’d always loved photography and my father had been a professional before me. It was his encouragement and teaching that would eventually pay dividends for me.
In November 2010 the inevitable happened and I received my final redundancy payment. I used this money to pay for some advanced photography courses, and buy all the camera equipment I would need.
The next few months would launch me into the world of professional photography, and a happier and more fulfilling life than I could ever have imagined.
In June 2011 I opened my new business and haven’t looked back. Each year is busier than the last, and I’ve managed to get through some very difficult times, during one of the longest lasting recessions the UK has ever seen.
I’m thankful of my past experiences, and the wonderful memories I have, and I wouldn’t change a thing, except to say I wish I’d turned pro at an earlier age.
They say that ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, and my eventual redundancy from the world of aircraft engineering was actually one of the best things to happen to me – Although I probably couldn’t see it at the time.
There’s so much uncertainty in the work place today, with zero contract hours, weak trade unions, low wages and so much redundancy, so I want to finish by saying this.
If your reading this, and worried about losing your job, or are currently unemployed and feeling low – Don’t worry too much.
Things have a way of working themselves out, and often for the best. I suppose everything happens for a reason. Who knows what’s around the corner for you?
It’s probably a lot better than you can imagine, and I wish you all the luck in finding a new job, and hope it leads to happier times.
Personally, I look back to those awful years of living under the threat of redundancy, and although I often think of my old friends, and miss seeing them everyday, I’m rather glad of the Last Days Of DSG, and wish they’d come sooner.