Located at the heart of the site and managed by Sodexo, the new Common Room facility ‘provides a relaxed environment to purchase refreshments, meals and snacks’.
Group Captain Adam Wardrope, station commander of RAF Benson, said: “This new Common Room is a fantastic facility and it will make a huge difference to the whole force here.
“It’s been a real team effort to keep driving forward with this project, despite all the challenges that lockdown posed, and we really appreciate how hard DIO and Sodexo have worked to help make our vision a reality.”
Despite the added complications of lockdown, the project was opened within nine months of approval, with funding for the project coming from both public and non-public funds, including a grant of £150,000 from the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Paul Anstey, chief executive of Government & Agencies for Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “The approach focuses on the wellbeing of serving members of the military and their families, helping to relieve isolation and boredom.
“Working in collaboration with the DIO and the team on-site has given us an opportunity to create an environment for military personnel to relax in, that’s aligned with the latest high-street dining trends and where everyone is welcome.”
The facility was officially opened on September 11th by the RAF Chief of Staff for Personnel, Air Vice-Marshal Maria Byford, and the Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Air Vice-Marshal (Retired) Chris Elliot.
Andy Honnor, DIO’s South East region head added: “This project is the result of a good relationship with RAF Benson and their request for a facility which would enhance the lived experience of their personnel.
“We were able to adapt plans used for a similar project elsewhere to create a much-improved social space, tailored to the needs of RAF Benson personnel, where they can relax, eat, drink and meet friends. We hope they enjoy the improvements we’ve made.”