Alumni - Will Hatherall

Andrew Wignall

Will Hatherall

I attended Manningtree High School from 2010 to 2015; I had a fantastic time during these years and regularly look back and reminisce. Living in Harwich, I thought the daily commute into Manningtree would become tiresome, and would make me reconsider my choice not to attend a school closer to home. However, commuting in with friends on a daily basis proved to be a lot of fun, and if anything, provided a bit more time to wake up in the mornings before pitching up to our first lessons. In Year 9, I chose to pursue Triple Science, History, Geography and German.

My favourite lessons at the time were History with Mr. Farrow, and Geography with Mrs. Scott. The trips associated with these subjects were also a highlight of my time at Manningtree, from exploring First World War battle sites in France and Belgium, to going on an expedition to Morocco and sleeping under the stars in the Atlas desert. These trips gave a whole new perspective, which couldn’t have been taught in a classroom. I knew during my time at Manningtree that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation, and the opportunities and experiences afforded to all of us helped pave the way for this to become a reality.

After finishing my GCSE’s at Manningtree in 2015, I extended my daily commute to attend the Sixth Form College in Colchester. Here, I studied Maths, Physics and Biology so that I would be able to go onto study Engineering at University if my application to join the RAF as a pilot wasn’t successful. I studied Modern History during this time too, so that my head wasn’t completely filled with numbers. As fate would have it, my first application was unsuccessful so after completing my A Levels I began studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sheffield. I had a fantastic time at University, so much so that I chose to extend my degree to a Masters to secure another year of student life. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, and in June 2021 I completed my final exams and bid farewell to Sheffield – somehow coming away with a First.

Having been successful in a second application to join the RAF as a pilot during University, I was told I had 9 months before I could start Officer training. After weighing up some options, namely taking up an engineering job, or going travelling, the latter sounded a lot more appealing! I got a job at the Co-op as a delivery driver for the next 6 months and by March 2022 had saved enough to go on a roadtrip with a few friends around the US for 2 months; starting in Portland, Maine and finishing in San Francisco, California – having driven some 6,000 miles. After the trip, I began Initial Officer Training at RAF College Cranwell for 6 months, and in November 2022, received my commission as an Officer. In January 2023 I began ground school, where we were taught basic concepts like navigation, meteorology and aerodynamics. At the time of writing in March 2023, I have started Elementary Flying Training, and look forward to reaching a frontline fast jet, rotary or multi engine aircraft type in a few years time.

I am convinced that my experiences at Manningtree have helped me at every step along the way. From giving me the confidence to go onto study Maths and Physics at Sixth Form, and later University, to going travelling abroad for a few months and living in a foreign country. I would happily go back and relive my time at Manningtree all over again.