Wing Commander Paul Loader has been appointed Station Commander at RAF St Mawgan. Born and raised in Cornwall, he is a keen sportsman and spent five years teaching Physical Education and outdoor activities before joining the RAF in 1992.
You were born in Illogan but have served in Bosnia, Holland and Germany. How has your upbringing in Cornwall influenced you?
Massively, because I was brought up outdoors, and on the beach which I love. It encouraged me to explore and my physical upbringing has been very useful to me as a Phys Ed teacher, rugby player and as part of the Military.
What made you decide to join the RAF?
I was coming towards the end of my rugby career and needed new challenges. Since then all my aspirations have been delivered by joining the Air Force, and now I am delighted and honored to take over command of RAF St Mawgan.
Military flying ended in December 2008, amid a lot of uncertainty – what role will RAF St Mawgan fulfill now and in the future?
I will be focusing on our engagement and involvement in the community and ensuring that the Station and its personnel continue to contribute and play an active and leading role in Cornwall. We are now specializing in ground training: adventure training, military skills, survival and decompression training, so we provide a holistic training centre for all three military services.
I am particularly pleased for our civilian personnel and all our friends in the community who have lived with uncertainty over recent years, and would like to thank each and every one of them for their continued support, hardwork and loyalty.
How many military personnel are there?
At the moment there are 200 military personnel and 150 civilians, but from next summer approximately 90,000 personnel, cadets and troops, could be coming through RAF St Mawgan per year.
What does your role as Station Commander of RAF St Mawgan involve?
I suppose you could say I'm the pinnacle of the pyramid. My role is to lead, motivate and direct all efforts towards supporting frontline operations, whether it's running messes, supply and logistics or training for deployment. I am very proud to take command of a RAF Base, but particularly so, as a Cornishman, to take a command in Cornwall.
What made you return to Cornwall?
I have three boys, and was keen to bring my family back to Cornwall – I find Cornwall inspiring, magical and unbeatable from anywhere I have visited around the world. We were having a holiday here when I heard that RAF St Mawgan was drawing down, and I thought why haven't I applied? So I did – and finally got the job!
I understand you have a degree in PE and are a keen rugger player – what role does sport have in your life?
A huge role. I've kept fit all my life and now I try and train every day. You need to be fit in mind and body for a military life - if you're deployed overseas, you need to be able to take responsibility for yourself and lead or support others around you.
If you hadn't joined the RAF, what would you like to have done?
Something sporting – perhaps adventure training, rugby coaching or become a lecturer in PE.
What's your favorite place in Cornwall?
I can't say that – everyone might go there and then it wouldn't be so special! All right then – I have several which depend on the time of year, the weather, my mood and so on. I like quiet places, so Holywell and Gwithian are two of my favourite beaches.
How do you relax?
I enjoy partying, cooking and physical activities of all sorts – and training on the beach.
Will you retire to Cornwall?
Oh yes – without a doubt!
August Cornwall Today 2009