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Award Encourages University Air Squadrons To Think Big

Published: 18 Nov 2016   updated: 21 Nov 2016

We would like to congratulate the University Air Squadron (UAS) from East Scotland, which became the first squadron to win The Paul Bowen Award, established by the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT).

The annual award, established in honour of Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder, Paul Bowen, was created to provide enriching opportunities and develop important life skills for UAS by embarking on adventurous expeditions and undertaking leadership training.

Grants of £15,000 and £10,000 have been awarded to the two squadrons who best demonstrated imagination and creativity, as well as leadership and responsibility in their expedition planning. 

After travelling to a remote area of Northern British Columbia, the winning squadron of 14 plans to mountaineer to Lake Tuaton, where they will begin a gruelling eight-day open water canoeing challenge on the Stikine River. The self-sufficient expedition, dubbed Maple Paddle, will be a true test of the individuals' adaptability, resourcefulness and ingenuity. 

The expedition leader, Sgt Lee Powles, said: "The entire team are extremely excited about this expedition in one of the world's last true wildernesses.  Although we do have opportunities to travel overseas to undertake expedition training, we would never be able to access such a remote location without the support we have received from the Trust".

"There are real-time risks involved throughout this expedition, which emphasises the importance of effective decision making, risk management and self-reliance.  As a result of the extreme isolation the expedition party will be operating in, this experience and the learning opportunity it provides are immeasurable and underpin everything this challenge is about."

Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, Chairman of the RAFCT, said: "Paul was known for his imaginative, stylish and enterprising spirit, which the Trustees wanted to reflect through this award by encouraging the same spirit in the UAS by challenging them to think bigger and better when planning their adventurous expeditions."

The RAFCT has also awarded £10,000 to the runner-up Bristol University Air Squadron. The award will help fund the squadron's 'Exercise Deep North' expedition, which will see them canoeing and mountaineering through Sweden.

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