February 18th 2016

Volunteering in Derbyshire

Wing Commander (Ret'd) Phil Giles OBE

From organising charity events to engaging with local employers, a Derbyshire volunteer devotes his time to the local community.

Wing Commander Phil Giles (Ret’d) OBE, aged 71, from Castle Donington, currently volunteers as East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association’s (RFCA) Derbyshire County Chairman, alongside working with several other local organisations including Long Eaton Rotary Club, Erewash Royal Air Forces Association and Derbyshire Disabled Soldiers Settlement Trust, all while also serving as a Deputy Lieutenant in Derbyshire.

Phil, who became Derbyshire Chairman in 2004, first gained an interest in the military aged 13 as an Air Cadet, and went on to enrol as an adult volunteer with the Air Training Corps (ATC). He became Officer Commanding of 1360 (Stapleford) Squadron in1976, before being appointed Wing Commander of East Midlands Wing ATC in 1984. Phil has also had the chance to form the first Air Cadet Squadron in Gibraltar, which was officially formed in 1985, as well as escorting the first ever International Air Cadet Exchange to Australia in 1988.

“Everything I do draws in elements from each of my voluntary roles, meaning that whichever capacity I am working in, I am always acting as an ambassador for the RFCA and creating new contacts. I have a real enjoyment for organising things and would say that over the years I have never learnt how to say no!” Phil commented

Admitting he enjoys a challenge, Phil organises many events through his RFCA role including a Heritage Trip to London for local employers who have the chance to attend the Ceremony of the Keys and dine in the RAF Club. He also organises the annual Employer Golf Day in Erewash as well as a Christmas Band Concert which supports local cadets. These events are designed to increase employers’ awareness of the contribution that the Reserve and Cadet organisations make to society and to acknowledge the considerable support that an increasing number of employers give to their Reserve and Cadet adult volunteer staff.

Phil continued: “My favourite thing about being part of the RFCA is being able to network and engage with so many different people including local employers, and having the chance to be an extension of the work the RFCA do in raising the profile of Reserve and Cadet Forces across the county. Throughout my time as Chairman I have built a good relationship with local employers and I would say that of all my roles in the voluntary sector, working with the RFCA is one of the most engaging.”

Retiring in 2002, Phil wanted to fill his time with projects which would benefit others and believes that the positive feedback he has had from employers has spurred him on to continue organising events.

He added: “To date I have organised for over 1,500 to attend employer events and have been informed that events like the London Heritage trip are both informative and interesting. I think it is important to engage with employers of reservists to continue building a positive relationship and I hope that they have enjoyed my efforts as much as I have.”

“Everything I do draws in elements from each of my voluntary roles."