Former St John's pupil Lt Mark Rose will be on standby with Royal Navy

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Lt Mark Rose, a Royal Navy pilot from Marlborough, is one of an aircrew ready to spring into action on Christmas Day from HMS Gannet in Scotland Lt Mark Rose, a Royal Navy pilot from Marlborough, is one of an aircrew ready to spring into action on Christmas Day from HMS Gannet in Scotland

Lieutenant Mark Rose, a Royal Navy pilot from Marlborough, is one of an aircrew ready to spring into action on Christmas Day from HMS Gannet, the Navy’s search and rescue unit at Prestwick in Scotland.

At 8am on Christmas Day, Lt Rose and three crew members will step forward to respond to any emergency call outs from the Lake District to Ben Nevis, Edinburgh to Northern Ireland, and dozens of west of Scotland islands. 

For the former student of St John’s School and his crew will be airborne within 15 minutes during the day and 45 at night to respond to emergencies from the UK’s busiest helicopter search and rescue unit.

“We sincerely hope that we won’t be required and that everyone can have a peaceful, safe and healthy Christmas and New Year," said Lt Rose.

“But if the worst, whatever that may be, should happen, then we are here to help.”

All the aircrew at HMS Gannet are full-time Royal Navy or Royal Marines personnel who bringing years of cool-headed bravery, experience and skill to their search and rescue duties.

Lt Rose joined RAF in May 2004 as an intelligence officer, spending time at RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington with detachments in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, for which he was awarded tour medals.

In November 2007, Mark transferred to the Royal Navy to become a pilot and spent four and a half years in flying training culminating in qualifying as a search and rescue pilot on 771 NAS in Cornwall in April 2012. He moved to HMS Gannet in December 2012.

“We never know what we’re going to encounter when we report for duty,” he said.

“Even what appears to be the simplest of jobs can turn out to be particularly challenging – and, in this part of the world, that’s usually due to weather conditions and some fairly difficult terrain.

“We work as a team and every person on the aircraft has invaluable experience and knowledge which helps us deliver the best results.

“It’s all about pulling together, remaining cool under pressure, staying safe and, most importantly, getting the job done well.”

Covering an area of 98,000 square miles, which includes Scotland’s west coast highlands and island, as well as Northern Ireland, and 200 miles out into the Atlantic, HMS Gannet’s crew never knows where the next flight will take it.

Lt Rose said: “Although I’m working Christmas Day, I’m really lucky as my wife, mum and brother are coming up to see me on Christmas Eve and we will then all have a proper Christmas get together on Boxing Day.

“And I’ll catch up with my dad, step mum and sister in Marlborough when I go home in the New Year.”

As well as the duty crew, there will be seven engineers covering the shift, as well as a meteorological forecaster.

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