The 20th July 17 proved to be a truly spectacular day for RAF Honington when HRH Prince Henry of Wales KCVO attended to present the RAF Regiment with a new Queen’s Colour to commemorate its 75th anniversary.
The day began when Prince Harry awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace to the RAF Police. The award is given to the unit that has been judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities by establishing good and friendly relations with the inhabitants of communities at home or overseas. During 2015 the Royal Air Force Police made a significant contribution to humanitarian activities. These included aviation security on Op PENNYWEIGHT, the provision of humanitarian aid following the cyclone in Vanuatu; Op VOGUL supporting the movement of UK aid supplies to South Sudan; Op LEYLAND supporting relief efforts following the earthquake in Nepal and Op TAILPIN, the repatriation of individuals from Tunisia following terrorist attacks on UK citizens.
The Royal Air Force Police have also maintained a detachment supporting security at Freetown Airport, Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis and went forward to assist in the provision of aviation security as 16,000 British passport holders were repatriated through Sharm el-Sheikh having been stranded following a terrorist attack.
Provost Marshal (RAF) - Group Captain Steve Horne MA RAF said:
“This highly coveted prize was unanimously awarded to us in recognition of the extraordinary catalogue of humanitarian, engagement and charitable activities that the organisation undertook in 2015. It is a testament to the personnel within the RAF Police that in spite of challenging regular duties, they have had an active involvement in charitable activities, fundraising over £57,710 for worthy causes.”
Accompanied by the Stn Cdr Gp Capt Dave Tait MBE, ADC, MA, RAF His Royal Highness arrived at the parade square where the Queen’s Colour Squadron and graduating gunners from Meiktila Flight 4-16 were waiting in anticipation. The impressive sound of the Airbus A400M Atlas flying over RAF Honington signified the start of the presentation of the new Queen’s Colour. The Standards for all of the RAF Regiment Squadrons stood proudly behind the RAF Regiment Band.
HRH Prince Harry read a personal message from Her Majesty The Queen;
"The presentation of Colours is an opportunity to recognise historic achievements and to look forward to the future with confidence; a confidence built upon the dedication of those who have served under past colours and will serve under this colour being presented today. I am pleased that Prince Harry is able to present a new Colour to the Royal Air Force Regiment in this, your 75th Anniversary year, on my behalf as your Air Commodore in Chief.
Next year the Royal Air Force will celebrate 100 years of defending the skies over the United Kingdom and protecting our Nation’s interests overseas
Here today, every generation is represented from the graduating gunners on parade to the founder members watching on. There are also a great many families present; their service and dedication is at the heart of The Royal Air Force Regiment's success.”
Despite the downpour at the end of the ceremony dignitaries, service personnel, veterans, families, school children and the local community were in the audience enjoying this historic and momentous occasion.
Before meeting the families and school children Prince Harry was introduced to Ron Fairweather, William Walker and Raymond Hill who were founder members of No 1 and 2 Armoured Car Company RAF. Next in line were a few of the graduating gunners from Meiktila Flt 4-16. LAC Richard Keating who was born in Cork said:
“I was thrilled to be on the parade but to meet Prince Harry was absolutely amazing”
Sam Brown (9), presented Prince Harry with a commemorative RAF Regt 75 Bear and a beautiful bouquet. Their father FS Jordan Brown, was recently diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, said:
“This is such a memorable day for Sam; one he will never forget.”
"Sam was nervous but very excited to meet the Prince.”