Recent Events

April 2022

Sunday 24 April.   Chevington Cemetery near Red Row, Northumberland. Purpose – formal Commemoration of those airmen from the Antipodes who were killed in the 1939-45 conflict and who rest in the enclave at Chevington, in conjunction with their national ANZAC Day. After an absence of three years, we welcomed not only the members of our own Branch but those who travelled up from the Branch at Hartlepool; our new branch from Rothbury; the Royal Observer Corps Association; the Royal Air Force Police Association and many other veteran organisations and a large number of members of the public. Their Standards were also paraded, the Guard of Honour was provided by the Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron and, after a short ceremony of Remembrance led the Padre from Royal Air Force Boulmer wreaths were laid at the Commemorative Headstone by representatives from Australia and New Zealand, together with those from other organisations, both national and local. Then, as is our custom, crosses were placed on each individual grave by representatives of the Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron and Cadets from 242 (Cramlington) and 2522 (Bedlington) Squadron’s, RAF Air Cadets. The Commemoration concluded with a formal March Past, the Salute being taken by Air Commodore Corney, the President of our Branch. The music during the event (and the bugler) was provided by the Backworth Band. And (as is our custom) we repaired to Hadston Village Hall for refreshments and a ‘good old catchup’.

And a selection of photographs (taken by Alan Proudlock) features in the ‘Photographs’ section.

January 2022

On Thursday 6 January we again gathered to pay our respects and say farewell – this time at Blyth Crematorium – to Keith Laws, our long-standing colleague and Parade Marshall at many of our events, who passed away suddenly just before Christmas 2021.

December 2021

On Thursday 23 December Branch members who were able – and both our Standards – paraded at the Saltwell Crematorium in Gateshead to pay our respects and say farewell to our long-standing colleague Lawrence Allen.   The Collection Box was donated by Lawrence’s family to the Branch and (at the time of writing) an appropriate memorial to Lawrence is under discussion by the Committee.

November 2021

Remembrance Day, Sunday 14 November.   Many Remembrance Day ceremonies in our area but represented by Mark Barker and Steve Hendry at Gateshead with Kenny Allen, Karen Bowers and Dave Gilbert (with Standard) at Newcastle and Syd Graham at Bedlington.   They all feature in the ‘Photographs’ section.

Monday 6 November saw two Branch members, Bill Houston and Dave Gilbert, manning the Royal British Legion ‘Poppy Table’ in TESCO at Kingston Park.   A photograph of them in their finery features in the ‘Photographs’ section.

September 2021

Saw us enjoying our Battle of Britain Commemoration service at St Hilda’s Church in Jesmond, after an absence of two years.   Although service commitments elsewhere meant that RAF Boulmer was not able to support us this year and we were not able to hold our usual formal parade, we were delighted that the Northumbria Universities Air Squadron was able to join us and that we able to welcome representatives and the standards from other veteran organisations too.   We were also pleased to welcome the Lord Mayor of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the Station Commander from RAF Boulmer, who read the lesson.   And (as usual) we all enjoyed the social gathering in the Church hall afterwards.   A selection of photographs (taken by Alan Proudlock) features in the “Photographs” section.

August 2021

Was the 100th birthday of Mr Bill Atkinson of Holywell who was a founder member of the RAF Regiment in 1942.   To mark the event, the RAF Regiment Association had organised a celebration of his birthday and the Branch went along in support, together with standards from other veteran organisations.   The weather was typically August – it rained and rained all afternoon but we were able to muster a parade and march to Bill’s house where the family was gathered in a mini-marquee outside.   Some of us had the foresight to bring plastic macs and brollies, those without got wet, as can be seen in the selection of photographs (taken by Alan Proudlock) in the “Photographs” section.

June 2021

TORNADO TRIBUTE TOUR OF ENGLAND

On Sunday 27 June 2021 the Association-sponsored Tornado Tribute Tour of England, a cycle-ride by colleagues to commemorate the memory of aircrew who were killed whilst on active service during the Gulf Wars ended with a Service of Remembrance at the grave of Flt Lt Norman Dent, who is buried in the Old Cemetery at Washington in County Durham.

The event was supported by the Branch with our Standard and that from the Branch at Crook, together with the family and relatives of Flt Lt Dent and with a large number of members of the public who remembered Flt Lt Dent.

A selection of photographs taken by Alan Proudlock features in the “Photographs” section.

December 2020

Our Branch RAFALO (FS Mark Barker) completed his walk on 17 December 2020 for ‘Walking for the Wounded’ and raised £246 from Branch member’s and thanks all who supported him.

October 2019

The ‘Hell Fire Pass’ at Kanchanaburi is a preserved site on the infamous Burma-Thai Railway built by prisoners of war of the Japanese during 1942-5 and where many RAF and RAFVR personnel lost their lives and are commemorated on the Memorial at the Pass.   Some time ago, our Secretary (Bill Houston) was in his local shop (who have one of our collecting tins on their counter) when an assistant explained that her son (who is ex-Army) lives in the Far East and was a regular visitor to the Memorial and, as she was going to visit her son, she was willing to take with her some Remembrance tributes from our Branch to place on the Memorial on our behalf.    This she did and a series of photographs taken at the time can be seen in the Photographic section.

June 2019

Early in 1940, 610 (City of Chester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, was withdrawn from front line duty in the South East of England and deployed to RAF Acklington to ‘recuperate and re-equip’. During their short stay at Acklington, four Squadron aircrew lost their lives on active duty but none were laid to rest in the ‘RAF Acklington enclave’ in Chevington Cemetery.   On 19 June 2019, however, a memorial to their memory (arranged by 610 Squadron Association) was unveiled and blessed in the nearby church of St John the Devine, Hadston.   The ceremony was attended by Group Captain Willibond (as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland), the Officer Commanding Administrative Wing and the Station Warrant Officer from RAF Boulmer and the Chairman of the 610 Sqn Association and supported by our Branch member’s (Doug Bradley, Michael Collins, Dave Gilbert (and our Standard) Bob Gordon, Syd Graham, Roy Knox, Alan Proudlock and Jim Riddle).  Afterwards, a small social gathering was held in the nearby Community Centre in Hadston.   Photographs of the event (taken by Alan Proudlock) feature in the ‘Photographs’ section.

April 2019

ANZAC Day on a lovely day in Chevington Cemetery.   A splendid gathering of dignitaries, the Honour Guard from RAF Boulmer, local RAF Air Cadets, Northumbrian Universities Air Sqn, military representatives from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Poland and many other North East veterans’ associations.   Music provided by the Backworth Band.   And afterwards (as usual) at The Trap in North in North Broomhill.   Plenty of photographs on the ‘Photographs’ section, mostly by Alan Proudlock, others from dubious sources!!

December 2018

During 2018, Phil Trainor (one of our most regular supporters) passed away and his family asked how his memory could be best remembered.   The donation of a trophy was suggested and the first two photographs in the ‘Presentations 2018’ selection in the ‘Photographs’ show the relatives of Phil presenting the ‘Phil Trainor Trophy’ to Sgt Sam Martin (our RAFALO from RAF Boulmer) who accepted the trophy on our behalf.   Also shown are some Cadets accepting their trophy at our December ‘do’ and (later in the month) Certificates of Appreciation for ‘services rendered’ to Mr & Mrs Dickinson of The Trap at North Broomhill for their support after our many ANZAC (and other) events.   Mr Dickinson returned the compliment by presenting a similar Certificate to Syd Graham.

September 2018

Our annual Battle of Britain Commemoration Service in September took place in St Hilda’s Church in Jesmond (for the first time) as our previous venue (St Andrew’s in Newcastle was unavailable due to problems with the roof).   We were pleased to be able to welcome local dignitaries, with support from RAF Boulmer, the Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron and the RAF Air Cadets.   Photographs of the event can be found in the ‘Photographs’ section.

June 2018 

Sunday 3 June saw the usual intrepid bunch of Branch members (Doug Bradley, Michael Collins (Chairman), Dave Gilbert (Standard Bearer), Tom Harrison, Bill Houston (Secretary) and Roy Knox) heading North up to Amble to represent the Branch at the unveiling of the Memorial to the crew of the RAF Pinnace 1386 (from the then Marine Craft Unit at Amble) which capsized on 29 September 1969 outside Amble Harbour on the Pan Bush Shoal with Flt Lt Bell (Skipper), Cpl Ivil and SAC Benson (the two Wireless Operators) losing their lives. The remaining five crew members owe their lives to the heroic efforts of the Amble Lifeboat crews; local fishermen; the crew of the SAR helicopter from 202 Sqn at RAF Acklington and members from the nearest Royal Navy Diving Team. 

The memorial plaque (located on The Green at Amble, the nearest point to the Pan Bus Shoal) was unveiled by Wg Cdr Brown from RAF Boulmer (supported by two Warrant Officers from the recently formed Trade Group 7 (the amalgam of the Air Traffic Control and Battle Management specialities)); two representatives from the Royal Navy Diving Team at HMS Faslane; current members of the Amble RNLI Lifeboat; RAF Air cadets; many members of the Marine Craft Association and their families and many members of the local fraternity . After the blessing of the memorial by the Vicar of Amble a Minutes silence was observed and this was followed by a violin recital and the laying of wreaths, one by the widow of Cpl Ivil. After the formalities were complete, refreshments were available in the Lifeboat Station nearby. 

On the way home, the team felt it necessary to deploy to The Trap in North Broomhill to reflect upon the day’s events !! 

April 2018

The Royal Air Force celebrated 100 years since its formation on 1 April 1918 and, in the absence of any formal ceremonial, the Branch held its own small commemoration of the event at the War Memorial in Eldon Square, Newcastle.   A selection of photographs are shown in the ‘Photographs’ section.

September 2017 

Over 250 people packed into St Andrew’s Church in Newgate Street, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for our annual Commemoration of the Battle of Britain on Sunday, 24 September 2017 

In attendance were the Sheriff of Newcastle, Councillor David Down and Mrs Down, The Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear, Major Eric Ingram, the President of Newcastle Royal Air Forces Association, Air Commodore Ian Forster OBE, Wing Commander Tim Brown representing the Officer Commanding Royal Air Force Boulmer and Reverend (Squadron Leader) David Haslam, Royal Air Force Boulmer. An Honour Guard of 24 personnel from Royal Air Force Boulmer represented the regular Royal Air Force; the Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron sent 14 of their personnel and there were 30 Cadets from the Air Training Corps present. Adding colour to the occasion were fifteen standard bearers from Royal Air Forces Association Branches and other ex-service organisations whilst the music for the event was provided the Band of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. 

The Service of Thanksgiving was conducted by Squadron Leader Haslam and included readings by Wing Commander Brown and a young RAF officer. Following the service, a buffet reception was hosted by the Branch. Some photographs of the event appear in the ‘Photographs’ section. 

February 2017 

The Branch Standard was paraded at the funeral of Branch members Tom Padgett. 

March 2017

The Northern Area Conference was held in Blackpool. Bill Houston attended as the Branch Delegate. 

April 2017

The annual ANZAC Parade was held at Chevington Ceremony and the fine weather contributed to the attendance of approximately 250 people. RAF Boulmer provided a Guard of honour and Wing Commander Taylor as reviewing officer. The cadets of 1801 Squadron ATC participated as did 14 RAFA and other association standards. 

The ceremony was greatly enhanced by the four new flagpoles, donated by Northumberland County Council. As usual, the buffet reception was held at The Trap Inn. 

May 2017

The annual Celebration Dinner was held at Northern Rugby Club and enjoyed by all who attended. Music was provided by a small ensemble from the ATC Wing Band and a free cask of ale was donated by the chef, David Giles. Guest of Honour was the Area President, Air commodore Richard Corney, OBE, with Mrs Corney. 

June 2017

The Branch was represented at the Falklands Commemoration event held at the Jigsaw memorial, Killingworth. David Gilbert paraded the Branch Standard. 

The Branch provided the only RAF representation at the Military Village event held on the Town Moor. 

December 2015

In conjunction with the Management Team at Newcastle Airport, a plaque was unveiled in the Passenger Terminal to commemorate the period 1939 to 1945 when Newcastle Airport was in the hands of the Royal Air Force (known as RAF Woolsington), primarily the home of No 83 Maintenance Unit, salvaging damaged aircraft from the area and was also used as a satellite base by No 72 Sqn RAF (equipped with the Spitfire) when it was based at both RAF Ackington and Ouston during 1940-2.   It returned to civilian use in 1945. A photograph of Branch members at the event is shown in the ‘Photographic’ section.  

November 2015

The Branch (and other Veterans Association) were invited to a meeting of the RAF Police Association (North East Branch) to celebrate the award of the ‘Legion of Honour’ to a former RAF Police veteran of the Normandy Campaign in 1944.   A couple of photographs appear in the ‘Photographs’ section – one ‘practicing’ and one formal !!   The recipient of the award is the gentleman in the centre of the front row.