New commander at Wittering

Group Captain Rich Pratley (left) hands over to Group Captain Tony Keeling (right)
Group Captain Rich Pratley (left) hands over to Group Captain Tony Keeling (right)
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The new station commander at RAF Wittering has said taking up the post is a ‘huge privilege.’

Aircraft engineer Group Captain Tony Keeling (47) takes the Station Commander’s chair at Royal Air Force Wittering bringing with him over 30 years’ experience.

The new Station Commander and his wife, Bobby, return to the area after a gap of over 20 years.

The young Tony Keeling was promoted to Corporal at the then Royal Air Force Cottesmore (now Kendrew Barracks). Mrs Keeling returns to this station, where she once worked as a dental hygienist.

Group Captain Keeling, who started in his new post last week, said: “It’s a huge privilege to be taking command of RAF Wittering, particularly as we head towards celebrating the RAF’s 100th anniversary in 2018.”

He added: “Bobby and I know first-hand how much the local community supports RAF Wittering and the fantastic things that Stamford and surrounding area has to offer.”

In 1999 Tony took his commission as an engineering officer after completing a university cadetship at the Royal Military College of Science.

His posts have included Senior Engineering Officer of 2 (Army Co-operation) Squadron in 2006 and he was Officer Commanding Engineering & Logistics Wing at RAF Lossiemouth (2006–2009). Group Captain Keeling has also twice served at the Ministry of Defence.

As he took up the role, Group Captain Keeling paid tribute to the man he is succeeding, Group Captain Rich Pratley.

He said: “I would like to thank Group Captain Pratley for his dedication and hard work. Wittering is in outstanding shape, continuously delivering military operations around the world and supporting flying training for the next generation of RAF pilots.”

RAF Wittering is unique amongst RAF establishments, having a mix of engineering and logistics wings, flying squadrons and Royal Air Force Reserve units. But it is the people of RAF Wittering Group Captain Keeling is most keen to get to know.

He said: “If you’re going to lead people effectively, you must understand them. So I’m looking forward to learning about the people, roles and challenges of the wide variety of units at RAF Wittering, as well as our colleagues from the British Army and our commercial partners.”