David Gibson

From Wing Commander to helping change the fortunes of one of England’s worst performing councils and running the Tyne and Wear Metro, David Gibson has made his mark on the world in impressive style.

And cadets at 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron ATC, heard it’s all thanks to the RAF.

Mr Gibson dropped in to chat to cadets about his high flying RAF career and the central part it has played in the next chapter of his life.

But Mr Gibson, who took over as managing director of the Tyne and Wear Metro/DB Regio in April this year, revealed it could have been very different.

Early in his RAF career he was told he lacked moral backbone and would never amount to anything.

But determined to prove his superiors wrong, he not only passed out as the top officer cadet in his intake, but by the relatively young age of 36 had been promoted to Wing Commander, and went on to be awarded an MBE for his part in the Afghanistan campaign.

And he credits the operational, contingency planning, leadership, and people skills he learnt in his near 23 years with the RAF, with helping him make a successful transition to civilian life.

This has seen him lead the recovery of failing Hull City Council; take on a range of top change and transformation projects in the defence, finance, and local and central government sectors; implement a number of multi-million pound infrastructure schemes at Luton Airport; and now lead the high performing team at the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Mr Gibson said the moral of his life story was that you should never give in, and always remain open minded when it comes to your career.

Mr Gibson also took the time to chat to cadets, answer their questions, and find out about the exciting range of activities they get involved in with 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron, from adventure training and fieldcraft, to UK and overseas-based camps, shooting, flying at RAF Leeming, sport, music, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

He said of his visit: “I really enjoyed coming to the Squadron and meeting the cadets and staff.  There was a lively buzz and the standards of behaviour, as well as self-confidence, amongst the cadets was impressive.”

The retired Wing Commander hopes to maintain contact with the Squadron, and there are plans to arrange a visit for cadets to the Tyne and Wear Metro train depot in South Gosforth.

The Squadron’s Officer Commanding, Flt Lt Dan Laidler, said: “David Gibson is an incredible role model, especially for our older cadets who are just taking their first steps into the adult world. Some are thinking about joining the military, and Mr Gibson’s extraordinary story shows how being in the RAF, where he took on many challenging and inspiring roles, has given him the edge in civilian life.”