Our former patron's name appeared for the first time in the May, 2003, issue of WAAFA News, but it was not possible to introduce her to the members properly at that time. Air Commodore Cynthia Fowler wrote a few words about her life before she became patron of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force Association, which we are pleased to reproduce here. In reply, on behalf of the Association, we were happy to welcome her to our ranks with the wish that the connection would be a long and happy one.
`When I retired from the Royal Air Force in November, 2000, I had completed 36 years service. Starting from scratch, I went through the ranks to sergeant until I was commissioned as a Flying Officer in 1969.
A number of tours at home and overseas followed, leading to promotion to Squadron Leader in 1979. That year saw the beginning of the first of my six tours at the Ministry of Defence. Thankfully, these were interspersed with spells at Stations and as a student at the Joint Services Defence College.
Promotion to Group Captain brought with it the post of Deputy Director WRAF and, as the role changed, I became responsible for service-wide welfare just as the first Gulf War started.
My last big step came in 1995 when I became an Air Commodore, serving at first in Personnel and Training Command with responsibility for general education and physical training and then, from 1996, as Director of Recruiting and Selection.
There were two peaks of my career. The first was to be Station Commander at RAF Uxbridge from December 1991 to January 1994. A most thrilling appointment and one which brought the Second World War sharply into focus as I was responsible for the WWII Operations Centre at Uxbridge.
RAF Uxbridge, as one of the original RAF Stations, had a fine history. T E Lawrence had joined the RAF at this Station in the 1920s under the pseudonym of Aircraftsman Ross. Churchill and HM King George & Queen Elizabeth visited Uxbridge to congratulate all those who had contributed to the Battle of Britain. I had several well-established units under command: The Queens Colour Squadron, The Central Band of the Royal Air Force and the responsibility for administering 4000 personnel serving world-wide.
The second pinnacle was to be Director of Recruiting and Officer & Aircrew Selection for the last four years of my service. I was based at Cranwell but the job took me all over the country with extra duties outside the norm. I seemed to be a regular at Speech Days as well as promoting the RAF on many other occasions.
Additionally, I had assumed various roles previously performed by DWRAF, meeting regularly with HRH Princess Alice and generally concerned with women's matters in the RAF.
Apart from work, I was always interested in sport, playing tennis, squash and golf. I still play golf representing club and county when asked to do so. I have a love of wild life and flowers, and travel to all parts of the world in pursuit of my interests and I thoroughly enjoy long distance walking.
Finally, I must say how pleased I was to be offered the opportunity of becoming Patron of The WAAF Association. It is an honour I was most happy to accept.
The reference I made to WWII reminds me that even in my earliest days in the service, the conditions I knew must have been very different from the ones experienced by members between 1939 and 1949. However, in spite of those differences, I believe that the concept of comradeship during and lasting friendships after our service lives is one that will continue for a very long time.
source: WAAFA News November 2003
The Chair of the Association wrote in the Winter 2018 issue: I sent a letter of thanks to Air Commodore (Rtd) Cynthia Fowler, on behalf of the Association, thanking her for her 15 years' service as our Patron.
I would like to, on behalf of the WAAF/WRAF/RAF(W) Association, thank you for your Patronage of the Association over the last 15 years. You have seen the Association through several changes, not least the change in name to encourage the younger women who have served in the Royal Air Force to join the Association. This has been a successful move and now 25% of the membership are ex-WRAF.
Following your suggestion at the last AGM to approach a younger and still serving senior officer to become the next Patron of the Association, we approached Air Commodore Catherine Coton MA RAF and she has graciously accepted our invitation to become the new Patron.
Thank you again for your Patronage over the past 15 years, and I wish you all the best for all your future ventures.
Tracy Watson, Chair WAAF/WRAF/RAF(W) Association