2,500 guests gathered in the grounds of the National Memorial Arborteum (NMA) on Sunday 13 May for the Association’s special commemorative service to mark the centenary of the RAF.
Cadet Sergeant Raveneet Sokhi from 2070 (Glenfield) ATC Squadron, read the words of Herbert Corby and music was provided by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Cadets from 72 (Omagh) Squadron acted as wreath bearers. The cadets met many of the dignitaries attending the event in particular Air Vice Marshal Warren James AOC 22Gp.
A drumhead ceremony and service was led by the Venerable (Air Vice-Marshal) Jonathan Chaffey, RAF Chaplain in Chief and the Reverend (Wing Commander) Alastair Bissell, Station Chaplain, RAF Shawbury. Readings were given and wreaths were laid by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, the RAF’s Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, RAF Association President, Air Marshal Sir Baz North, and Falklands veteran, retired Flight Lieutenant David Chandler.
A flypast by a WWII Spitfire from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight brought the event to a poignant close.
Speaking just after the service, Nick Bunting, Secretary General of the RAF Association said: “This year we wanted to expand this to celebrate the 100th birthday of RAF. The RAF family sacrifices a normal lifestyle so that the people of our country can feel secure and safe at home. Today we gave thanks for this, and looked ahead to the Association’s continuing support of the RAF over the next 100 years. For this special year it is important for us to come together and commemorate those who have served, those who are serving and their loved ones.”
The service was reported on BBC Midlands Today and a photographer from the Daily Telegraph also attended. A private service of remembrance and rededication of stones and crosses was later attended by families, friends and colleagues and a further 12 standard bearers at the Association’s own remembrance garden at the arboretum.