The City of London Corporation has marked the centenary of the Royal Air Force with a rare display of aircraft in the Guildhall courtyard, a reception for 600 RAF personnel and a charitable banquet.
As part of the UK-wide RAF100 celebration, City Livery companies and the aerospace industry sponsored a display of aircraft through the ages from a WW1 Sopwith Camel to the present-day Typhoon. Children and City workers were able to appreciate the role of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in aviation and, in the prosperity and security of the UK.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: “In our 100th year we want to showcase the vital role the RAF continues to play in defending the British people and protecting our Nation’s interests. Launched on April 1, the celebrations are a fitting recognition and thank you to the exceptional dedication, spirit and achievements of our men and women. They also encourage us to look to the future: the greatest legacy of RAF100 will be its ability to inspire a whole new generation so that together we can help shape our next century.”
The Lord Mayor said: “What brings us all here tonight is a very special celebration to recognise how the RAF continues to play a vital role in the safety of people all across the world and perhaps more importantly, to inspire the next generation.
He added: “I speak for the entire City of London Corporation when I say thank you for everything you have done and that you do for the UK. We continue to owe you all an incredible debt.”
A charitable banquet was hosted by three City Livery Companies to support the education and training of air cadets. Amongst the many city business hosts was Robert Merrett, an international banker. He said: “If you don’t have the support of the Armed Forces you don’t have security, you don’t have stability and you don’t have confidence; the whole of London is built on exactly the same principles.”
Deputy Senior Air Traffic Controller, Flight Lieutenant Rosie Dean from RAF Cranwell summed up the City hospitality: “It’s just overwhelming and we are being looked after so well.” Speaking of RAF100 she added: “I’m very proud to be part of the RAF. It’s got such a history and story behind it, it’s fantastic to be able to celebrate it.”
From 1 April 2018, the Royal Air Force kicked off its 100th birthday celebrations. The centenary itself will be marked by events, activities and other initiatives running nationwide from April to the end of September 2018.