“A reprise of the year? How boring.” After almost 18 years of marriage, Mrs Stringer knows her husband far too well, and has moved well beyond the place for polite if false encouragement.

However, I hope both she and you will allow at least some reflection on a year that had a bit of everything, including a visibly moved Chris Evans. Overseas deployments to the Middle East and America, and one to Cyprus replaced by the real thing…the most significant RAF/ Royal Saudi Air Force exercise yet conducted at the same time…the Dambusters 70th Anniversary, and Jamie Norris flying the flag for Service, Force, Station, Squadron and UK PLC…a record season for BBMF…success on sports pitches, athletics tracks and horse-riding arenas…EAW duties trained for and assumed…and more visitors than I can remember.

Little wonder then that I think Christmas and some time off will be extremely welcome for all of us and our families: it has been hard- and well-earned and I offer my sincere thanks to everyone for the breadth and depth of achievement. Equally, I am more convinced than ever that we must challenge those things that hold us back, and own and be responsible for those things that we can. I intend to make this a cornerstone of how we approach all of our business in 2014, from providing support and facilities to our families, through to maximising operational capability from the Coningsby Typhoon Wing and our lodging units. We have already kicked off some work on this and everyone has a contribution to make here. I can’t promise jam today, and some things will not be quick fixes, but I am convinced that there are real, tangible improvements that we
can make.

Enough of the exhortations: enjoy the break and time with friends and families, stay off the scales (it’s only depressing and the gym is what January was invented for) and from Lisa, James, Henry and me…have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.