On Friday 2nd February Her Majesty The Queen visited RAF Marham in her capacity as Honorary Air Commodore of the Station.
Children from the local Cherry Tree Academy and the Rainbow Daycare Centre welcomed Her Majesty to Marham. They lined the roads up to the camp gates and waved flags and cheered as her car passed by them.
The Queen commenced her visit at the new Lightning Operations Centre where Her Majesty met with personnel from all across the Station. The Lightning Operations Centre is the first building to have been completed as part of Project Anvil, the project which is delivering all the new infrastructure to support the F35B Lightning aircraft that will arrive in the summer of 2018. The Lightning Operations Centre will be the Headquarters of the Lightning Force and provide through-life airworthiness management and a global to national interface in support of the UK F35 Lightning Force.
Her Majesty was also introduced to representatives from the Lightning Delivery Team who were responsible for the delivery of the building along with Lockheed Martin and BAe Systems, the main contractors overseeing this project site. Also present were local firm Balfour Beatty who constructed this state of the art facility.
After meeting everyone The Queen was invited to officially open the Lightning Operations Centre with the unveilling of a plaque that had been commissioned by Lockheed Martin.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“The Royal opening of this operations hub for the F-35 brings us another step closer to these pioneering jets flying from their UK home later this year, and their take-off from the magnificent aircraft carrier which proudly bears Her Majesty’s name. I’m delighted The Queen has seen what the future holds for the Royal Air Force, particularly as we celebrate a rich 100-year history of brave men and women protecting our skies.”
Her Majesty was then taken to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess where she met with Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and Junior Ranks and spoke to them about their various roles at RAF Marham before moving off to the Officers Mess for lunch. Before lunch The Queen met with personnel from the RAF100 committee who showed Her Majesty some of the activities that were being planned by RAF Marham to commemorate this milestone in the Royal Air Force’s history. At the end of the lunch Her Majesty was invited to present the Firmin Sword of Peace to the Station Commander, Group Captain Townsend who accepted it on behalf of the Station.
The Firmin Sword of Peace is awarded to the unit or establishment that is judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities by establishing good and friendly relations with the inhabitants of any community at home or overseas during that year. RAF Marham were proud to receive this award in recognition of the many activities that it had conducted throughout 2016, their centenary year and its support to the local community whilst continuing with operations in Syria and Iraq. During this time the station was also dealing with the disruption of infrastructure works at the base in preparation for arrival of the new F35 Lightning aircraft as well as supporting major county and charitable events including initiatives to support the local communities.
As The Queen left the Officers Mess at the end of her visit Her Majesty was presented with a posy of flowers by children from the Cherry Tree Academy.
Group Captain Townsend said:
“It was wonderful to welcome Her Majesty to RAF Marham today and we are honoured that this was her first Royal Air Force engagement in the RAF’s centenary year.”