Commonwealth Day

A small crowd gathered at Morecambe Town Hall to hear a letter from the Queen read out by the Deputy Mayor. Unfortunately we are unable to show a picture of those attending as restrictions were in force because of the children present. The day cold:

Lancaster Veterans Evenings

There is the opportunity to go along for coffee and chat with fellow veterans at Sharpe’s Cafe (the First Light Charity cafe) in Market Street, Lancaster from 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm every fortnight. Next dates 2nd, 16thand 30thApril. No need to book, just turn up.

Other upcoming events from the Charity will include archery, clay pigeon shooting, football, running, social meetings and lots more. If you’ve not yet been to the cafe do go along and see what it’s like – the coffee is very good and they have some excellent cakes!

Blessing of new Branch Standard

It has been arranged between our Standard Bearer and Branch Chaplain that our new Standard will be blessed at the 10.00 am service on Easter Sunday, 21stApril, at St Barnabas Church, Regent Road, Morecambe LA3 1BJ. Please come along if you can to support our Standard Bearer.

Northern Area Conference – Blackpool – Report

Northern Area Welfare Seminar

Branch Welfare Officer

Over the weekend of 15 – 17 March 2019 I attended two meetings on behalf of the branch.

On Friday and Saturday morning I attended the annual area welfare seminar, which was

dominated by Cyber security. As we are dealing with members who are often old and have

not been brought up from an early age with the marvels of the internet they are seen as

particularly vulnerable.

They are often trusting and not always aware of the necessary security checks that they

should take when dealing with unsolicited communications in particular. The talk was

given by a Lancashire Constabulary volunteer and was quite illuminating. Preston has also

sent a download of the booklet regarding internet security.  Branch members should contact

me for a copy.

A talk by a Royal British Legion Admiral Nurse covered help for sufferers with dementia.

The nurses can help both the sufferer and their carers and if this would help someone

you know, members please contact me. At present the area coverage is limited

but they do cover Lancashire.

Final item for Saturday was a workshop case study. I find these workshops fascinating as

the team come up with such fantastic scenarios that you would not believe they are real,

but we are assured they are all genuine cases.

The evening was spent over a buffet where we could meet colleagues, not seen since our

get together last year in Yorkshire. This gives a good opportunity to compare cases and

methods of working as well as have a drink or three.

Previously the welfare and area meetings were held separately, but as many of the

attendees are the same people and the overheads are probably reduced the two have now

been combined.

Saturday was largely spent listening to addresses by the Area President and a welfare brief

with a close at 12:00.

Several things came out of the seminar which may be of interest.

Probably the most important is the creation of an online membership database which will be available to

approved members of the branch. There will be a new initiative to contact all members who do not renew

and they will stay on the membership database for three months. As the database needs to

be current branches will be requested to let HQ know of any changes ASAP.

An investigation is currently ongoing as to the viability of Richard Peck House. As it

stands, it will shortly become non-compliant with legislative requirements and will also be

incapable of alteration to make it compliant. The alternatives are close, demolish and

rebuild or look for more suitable accommodation. One of the main factors in the decision

will be that it is at present under-used.

Northern Area Conference

The conference started after lunch on Saturday and was dominated by the ‘Branch

development session’.

The whole event focussed on the need to accept One Charity and One Member, One Vote.

The speakers went to great lengths to explain the dire consequences for members of branches

if things, especially financial, went wrong.

Many examples were given of current delinquent branches, but more

interestingly many of the eighty clubs run by branches were non-compliant with

current legislation.

Examples were quoted of at least one branch club breaking one or more pieces of

legislation, such that every piece of legislation seemed to be being broken by someone.

The cost of One Member, One Vote was believed to be modest as the question would be

asked either electronically, or by a form printed in Air Mail for those not on email.

The cost of One Charity could however be significant as the national charity would have to

remedy problems in branches and clubs, but this would give greater security to branch

committee members by relieving their legal liabilities as trustees.

The present RAFA structure of separate charities came about at the suggestion of the

Charities Commission, who at the same time were recommending that the Royal British Legion

abandon individual charity status and just have one national charity.

The evening consisted of a formal dinner with a singer afterwards.

Early start on Sunday for Church Parade. This was followed by the parading of area and branch

standards, award of certificates and finally a short general meeting which was largely a summary

of what had been discussed over the weekend.


Morrison’s Morecambe Collection Day

A big thank you to all of our collectors on Saturday last, we enjoyed cheerful shoppers who provided £384.46 for our Wings Appeal.


Sheffield Memorial Day 22 February 2019

These News Shots are pictures of this moving event, and below is the Report prepared by our Representative:

My visit for the Sheffield Memorial Flypast

Branch Welfare Officer

Friday 22ndFebruary, 2019

US Army Airforce B-17, ‘Mi Amigo’, serial 42-31322 had been allocated the target of the airfield at Alborg, Denmark on 22ndFebruary, 1944 but was unable to drop its bombs due to cloud cover and, not wanting to kill Danish civilians, aborted the drop. The airfield was home to both Fw190s and Bf109s which attacked ‘Mi Amigo’ and left her badly damaged.

She dropped her bombs harmlessly in the North Sea and struggled to return to Britain. By the time she reached the coast she was at least eighty miles off course and struggling to find somewhere to put down. The crew spotted a grassed area in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield but the park was occupied by children playing football. As the engines failed ‘Mi Amigo’ came down in the wood to the rear of the park, killing those members of the crew who had survived the fighter attack.

In total on that day 430 American airmen died and 43 aircraft were lost.

Seventy five years later after a chance meeting with a BBC Breakfast presenter, Dan Walker and Tony Foulds, who has laid flowers on the site and later the memorial since seeing the crash as a child, a memorial flypast was arranged for the anniversary.

I arrived just after 05:00 and the TV broadcast was mostly set up and ready to air from 06:00, taking over the entire ‘Breakfast’ programme. The café in the park had been taken over by the BBC for make-up and as the ‘green room’ for invited guests, not all of whom actual got onto the programme. Throughout the morning the crowd increased until at the time of the flypast, barely any grass could be seen. During the broadcast the usual format for ‘Breakfast’ was followed, with interviews from the sofa in the park, history snippets and cuts to the airfields preparing for the flypast. What was not shown was the short memorial service held just before the flypast. Local British Legion and ATC standards were in evidence, as were the cadets from South Yorkshire and Legion members. Sadly I did not see a single RAF Association standard, even though the memorial was provided by the Sheffield Branch, along with a semi-circle of ten American Oaks c.1969. However, the President of RAFA Air Marshall Sir Baz North was there representing us all.

The flypast was the culmination for many and the park started to slowly empty, with the public unable to access the memorial, which had been roped off for the day.

As I had not visited the Hope Valley for a few years and the weather was exceptional for February, I decided to return to Sheffield on the following Tuesday to visit the memorial then continue to Ladybower Reservoir and the Hope Valley. I was amazed when I arrive by the number of people at the memorial and the number of wreaths and other items that had been left. I arrived in the morning, intending a quick visit, but spent much longer than anticipated talking to members of the public. As a result I did not get to visit the dams on the reservoir which were used for practice by 617 squadron, prior to the ‘dams raid’, because of the long walk from the car park. At least I now have an excuse to return to the area again. (Photography note – the photos of the flypast are not the best because the aircraft were approaching from out of the sun; the BBC had to use air to air shots to combat the problem)

Branch Donation to 2246 (Carnforth) Air Cadet Squadron

At the end of December last our Branch made a donation to 2246 (Carnforth) Air Cadet Squadron towards some climbing equipment. On Tuesday 19thFebruary three Committee members visited the Squadron HQ for a photo shoot with the cadets and staff.

Together with a donation from the Freemasons, we purchased nine helmets, nine harnesses and a climbing rope. Another rope for abseiling is also on order. Sgt Joe Ashton is the staff member with responsibility for climbing and he is qualified to take the cadets to indoor climbing walls. With this equipment they will be able to climb all year round.

If they can “borrow” a member of staff from 345 (City of Lancaster) Squadron who has the necessary qualifications they will also be able to go climbing on natural rock faces.

AGM Report

The AGM, at the Clarendon Hotel, Morecambe and former RAF Morecambe HQ, was attended by 32 members and Marc Boyle, Northern Area Branch Support Officer.

The Chairman reviewed a very successful RAF100 and thanked all of those who helped and participated in a full and very busy year.

The Treasurer reported that despite the expenditure throughout the year the Branch did not have to touch the monies in the Reserves set aside for any required subsidies as the formal Dining in Night just about broke even.  Donations and the proceeds from the Branch RAF100 concert helped.  In end the Branch managed to pay out from the Year End Surplus around £1500 for a new Standard and regalia for the busy Standard Bearer, a new banner incorporating the new crest and over £500 to 2246 (Carnforth) Air Cadet Squadron for high quality climbing equipment in support of nine cadets at any time, and other items.

LovelyRegent Park Pavilion venue for an Evening Drop-in drink and Chat meetings: 7.30pm onwards

Drop in the evenings for a drink and a chat: the manager welcomes all members

Calling all Parents and Relations of Serving Personnel

It is amazing that we have such few members who have relations serving in the RAF.  This is very sad because all that we do is focussed on gathering funds and support for serving personnel in time of need and yet their families show little to no interest.  Their loved ones are in difficulties and strangers help them by collections and other activities.  When they leave the service for any reason we are there to help them should they need us.

Dear parents and relations of serving personnel, you don’t have to have been in the RAF to join us.  Just having someone you love or know in the RAF means you can have a Full Associate Membership at the small annual minimum cost of £8.50.

If you don’t join us and as our numbers deplete, we and the funds won’t be there to provide the assistance required.

Show your concern by getting in touch and join us now!

RAF 100 Dining-in-night

For possibly the first time since World War II, Morecambe hosted a formal RAF Dining-In Night. On Friday 20thApril, 115 serving and ex-service RAF personnel, honoured guests, RAF Air Cadets, families and friends sat down to a splendid meal at the Headway Hotel to celebrate the 100thanniversary of the foundation of the Royal Air Force.

An event which had been two years in the planning was, on the night, extremely tested when a nasty crash on the M6 delayed both dinner guests and a coach party also destined for the hotel – inevitably they arrived together!

“We always get excellent service from the Headway and an event of this size, together with a full hotel, would have been a challenge at the best of times,” said Squadron Leader Brian Jefferson, RAF Association Branch President and Master of Ceremonies for the evening, “but the way the staff coped with this upset to their plans was truly amazing. We can’t thank them enough.”

Air Cadets from 455 (Morecambe & Heysham), 1127 (Kendal) and 2246 (Carnforth) Squadrons did a sterling job of escorting guests to their tables and persuading them to part with their money for the Grand Raffle!

Guests heard an address by the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Lord Shuttleworth, who revealed a personal connection with the RAF: his cousin, the third Lord Shuttleworth, had been an RAF pilot and was shot down off the Isle of Wight on 8thMay 1940.

“An excellent evening was had by all. As one guest commented: “I love the camaraderie of the armed forces associations and the work they do and yesterday demonstrated what they are all about. To have senior officers, high ranking civic dignitaries, service and ex-service personnel of all ranks and young cadets all mixing together, and excellent and emotional speeches and a super “master of ceremonies” was a wonderful thing.”

Here are numerous photos to mark this important event:

Top Table guests: (front row left to right) Mrs Deb Lee; Squadron Leader Brian Jefferson MBE, RAF Association Branch President & Master of Ceremonies; Cllr Roger Mace & Mrs Joyce Mace, Mayor & Mayoress of Lancaster; Lady Anne Shuttleworth; (back row left to right) Rev Gp Capt Richard Lee (Northern Region Chaplain RAF Air Cadets); Lord Charles Shuttleworth, Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire; Mrs Amy Robinson, RAFA Northern Area Director; Mrs Mandy Cliffe; Air Vice Marshall John Cliffe, Chairman RAFA Central Council. (Missing from the photograph: Cllr Pat Wooff, Mayor of Carnforth and her daughter Mrs Leonie Hodgson; Cllr Liz Scott, Lancaster City Council Armed Forces Champion.)

Lord Shuttleworth giving his address.

Representatives of the RAF Air Cadets welcomed all the guests showing them to their hosting committee member and four others sold over £400 worth of raffle tickets.  They came for 455 Morecambe and Heysham Squadron and 2246 Carnforth Squadron

These photos show 115 guests enjoying a wonderful evening.

Such events don’t happen by themselves: for this one the agreement for use of the Headway Hotel was obtained in January 2016 and planning started from then. Eyes were focussed on opportunities to invite the most senior of people  for the top table.  On the two days on and before the event a wonderful display of RAF activities capturing 100 years had to be put in place and we are most thankful to Squadron Leader Brian Jefferson Branch President and David Hodgson Welfare Officer for all their hard work in collecting the exhibits and displaying them.  Other members had to put up all the flags and bunting, the hotel staff prepared a fitting and beautiful setting  for  121 places, a video covering 100 years had to be collated and displayed and finally the RAF Air Cadets had to be briefed.

All was going according to plan until a car crash on the M6 put a spoke into it all with late guests and a coach load of holiday makers collided with the people going down to dinner.  Some how all was sorted out without any apparent fuss or loss of decorum.  The hotel staff were just magnificent: they fed some 80 hotel guests and RAF100; the food was all up to their highest standard.  Somebody just asked when were going to do this again, next week perhaps: not in our time we can tell you.

Battle of Britain Service

The Battle of Britain Service in St Barnabas Parish Church, Morecambe, incorporates the theme of the Few and the Many.  Before the Service a silent video is shown of the main events, from the departure of the RAF in France up to the Blitz  This provides the correct atmosphere for what was a very moving service.