Countess of Wessex Cup at Royal Air Force Wittering

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The Countess of Wessex Cup at Royal Air Force Wittering in Cambridgeshire yesterday. SAC Kimberley Watersonn - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

British and Canadian military units went head to head in friendly competition for The Countess of Wessex Cup at Royal Air Force Wittering in Cambridgeshire yesterday.

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex was welcomed to RAF Wittering by the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence OBE QPM. An afternoon of intense competition between the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force followed, with The Countess impressed by the levels of skill and determination shown by each of the teams.

The venue and challenges in The Countess of Wessex Cup change from year to year but always include a series of demanding physical and mental tests. Coronavirus has meant a change to this year’s competition and the Canadian regiments have competed virtually, remaining in their home country.

The Countess of Wessex is the Honorary Air Commodore for RAF Wittering, and has formal links to several other military bodies. Her Royal Highness is the Colonel-in-Chief for two Canadian regiments; the South Alberta Light Horse, and the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. The Countess is Colonel-in-Chief for Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps and the Corps of Army Music, the Royal Colonel of the 5th Battalion The Rifles and is the Lady Sponsor of HMS Daring.

Flight Lieutenant Sam Lawton is an RAF engineer and project officer for the 2021 contest. He said:

“If there was a competition for the military in the 21st century, this is it. There is a tough physical event, but we’ve also included an escape room, a media challenge, science and engineering, and even an online gaming element. It’s all there.”

The physical challenge was a relay event, which saw the teams endure seven demanding exercises including pushing the tyre and burpees. Building miniature rocket cars was the engineering challenge as the teams competed to see who had designed and constructed the fastest. In the media challenge, each of the competing units had been asked to produce a short video about what they do, and The Countess was asked to judge the top four.

Her Royal Highness was invited to attempt the E-gaming challenge, which was rally driving computer game Colin McRae: Dirt 2. The Countess demonstrated considerable driving skills as, unlike some of the competing teams, she negotiated the course with complete success.

In the end, however, there can only be on winner and, after the scores were totalled, it emerged that the 5th Battalion The Rifles had secured a victory for the Army in The Countess of Wessex Cup.

Wing Commander Jeremy Case is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering, he said:

“It is an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to her Station, and it is an honour to be hosting her Cup this year. The atmosphere has been one of cooperation and friendly competition, a valuable part of life in the Armed Forces that helps foster esprit de corps.”

The Station Commander concluded:

“Our project officers have done a great job in designing and organising today’s event which was enjoyed by all, including Her Royal Highness.”

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