The day kicked off at 1000 with the Box Cart racing. Excitement bubbled and tensions were high as 10 teams battled it out on the mean streets of Odiham Village. Our very own COS, Wg Cdr ‘Dinger’ Bell, was a most excellent compere and kept the crowds on the edge of their seats throughout the racing.
The teams were:
Pilcot Pathfinders (Dogmersfield Village)
Dunley Hill Billys (North Warnborough Village)
Spitty McSpit Face (Buryfields and Mayhill School)
Broad Oak Flyers (Local Residents)
A Bunch of Tools (RAF Odiham CSC Engineers)
Baseball’s Bunch (RAF Odiham Air Traffic Control)
Sorry Chaps Moust-dash (18(B) Sqn)
Turbo Nelly (27 Sqn)
Rebel Alliance (Robert Mays School)
Pump & Go (RAF Odiham Logistics)
The huge amount of time and effort that had gone into all the Box Carts, as well as the crews’ outfits, was truly astonishing and testament to the high regard the community holds the RAF centenary. The standard was so high that there was a tie between Spitty McSpit Face and the Rebel Alliance for the coveted ‘Best Crew/RAF Swagger’ award; it had to be put to the crowd for a ‘cheer-off’ to decide the winner – The Rebel Alliance, representing Robert Mays School.
The award for the best cart design, however, went to the Dunley Hill Billys, with their replica Sopwith Camel cart – it certainly was incredible, and how very apt for the centenary celebrations, to take inspiration from one of the RAF’s first ever aircraft!
The ‘Fastest Scramble’ went to the Pilcott Pathfinders, a group of Dogmersfield village residents who were as fast as a rocket from the ‘crew rest area’ to their wonderful Red Arrows themed Box Cart. However, a speedy scramble is one thing; a speedy cart was the aim of the day.
So then, the team who were victorious for the all-important and coveted ‘Fastest Cart’ award… ‘A Bunch of Tools’ – the Boeing Team! It was a close run race with 18(B) Sqn’s ‘Sorry Chaps, Moust-Dash’ who were pipped to the winning post by a mere 0.5 seconds!!
But the race that you all want to hear about, of course, is the inter-Sqn rivalry between 18(B) & 27 Sqn. In a fierce head-to-head sprint back up the hill during the post-race parade, the 2 teams gave it their all to push ‘Turbo Nelly’ and ‘Sorry Chaps, Moust-Dash’ to a glorious victory. It was a hard fought race, the atmosphere electric, the stakes high, but the mighty 18(B) Sqn emerged the emphatic victors, trouncing poor Nelly and leaving her behind in a bashful cloud of red smoke. A truly inspirational display of determination!
After a quick turnaround, the High Street was transformed from Box Cart racing track to party central! Two hundred tables were laid out, with local residents and service personnel alike celebrating in true quintessentially British style – a good old fashioned Street Party. It was clear to see the fantastic relationship between the base and the local community. Picnics were bountiful, beer flowed, champagne quaffed and sandwiches snaffled along to the wonderful accompaniment of the Andover Brass Band. Merriment was high and goody bags were handed to each table, containing ‘gizzits’ from Boeing to assist in decorating the tables.
Partygoers were treated to a superb Chinook and Puma flypast, followed by a speech from the Stn Cdr, Gp Capt Lee Turner, who commemorated the occasion and led the Loyal Toast in celebration of the Queen’s Birthday. We were then entertained by a Jazz quintet, before a Hurricane wowed the crowd with a spectacular flypast.
The almighty Chinook cake, made by Odiham Cake Company, and delicious cupcakes, made by RAF Odiham’s own catering team, were both offered to attendees by the local Air Cadets, in exchange for a donation to the RAF100 charities. We are pleased to report that the cake donations raised £1,000 and the day as a whole made over £5,000 for the RAF100 charities.
Odiham Parish Council took the perfect opportunity to present a round of Community Awards: these were presented to Katie Bleathman, for her services to local schools and posthumously to Mick Paull, for his 44+ years of service in Odiham Village Fire Station. I’m sure we all agree the awards are very well deserved.
We were extremely lucky to have dry and sunny weather all afternoon, and the South West Regional (SWR) Air Cadets Band entertained us with their tunes as the function drew to a close. The SWR Air Cadet Band showed amazing talents and their music was enjoyed by all.
Sadly all good things must come to an end, as unfortunately was the case with the Odiham RAF100 Street Party – the largest community celebration nationwide with over 2500 people in attendance. A truly fantastic event led by Sqn Ldr JM David, co-ordinated by Flt Lt Sarah Clark and the Street Party Committee.
Huge thanks must go to Odiham Parish Council, Hart District Council and community volunteers, without whom, the event simply could not have gone ahead. Thank you to the SWO’s working party and MT who delivered and set up seating for over 1200 people. A very big thank you also goes to Boeing for their support. Last but by certainly no means least, the Street Party committee would like to extend their gratitude to the Air Cadets of 1827 (Odiham) Sqn and 229 (Farnham) Sqn, who tirelessly worked behind the scenes all day long, including staying until the bitter end to clear away the tables and sweep the streets after the last of the Pimms had been supped!