Happy 100th birthday to the Royal Air Force

On 1 April, to mark our centenary, former and serving members of the Royal Air Force gathered in their best blues for a range of events in London.

A breakfast reception hosted by Pearson at 80 the Strand, site of the former Hotel Cecil – the first headquarters of the newly-formed RAF in 1918 – kicked the day off.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier and members of the RAF100 baton relay team outside 80 Strand London

The honour of reading out a special centenary message from Her Majesty the Queen to the assembled guests went to 16-year-old Aircraftsman Adam Wood, the youngest serving member of the RAF.

This was followed by the traditional Founders’ Day Service at St Clements Dane, the official church of the Royal Air Force.

Following the service, guests enjoyed a reception at the Royal Courts of Justice, concluding with the launch of the RAF100 baton relay.

The baton, designed by RAF apprentices to represent the RAF’s century of service to the Nation, will visit every region of the UK and several overseas locations from 1 April to 10 July 2018.

Long March survivor and veteran of the RAF, Air Commodore Charles Clarke had the honour of being the first person to pass the baton.

He emerged onto the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice and handed it to Aircraftsman Adam Wood.

Flanked by Air Cadets and relay runners, the baton relay was launched by the rousing ringing of an RAF scramble bell, synonymous with the Battle of Britain, by esteemed veteran, World War Two flying ace and one of the ‘Few’ Wing Commander (retired) Paul Farnes, launching not only the baton relay but also the RAF100 programme of events.

Air Commodore Charles Clarke hands the baton to Aircraftsman Adam Woods to start the relay

Reflecting on the occasion, Air Commodore Charles Clarke said: “I never expected this anniversary to take place in my lifetime, but I am full of admiration for the current generation coming through – they are such a wonderful crowd.”

Aircraftsman Adam Wood, who played a major role in the day’s celebrations, said: “I’m really proud to have been chosen to read out the message from the Queen and then, as one of the youngest airmen in the RAF, to receive the baton from Air Commodore Clarke.”

This marks the beginning of RAF100, a national campaign that will feature events, activities and other initiatives running nationwide from April to the end of September 2018. For information on events visit our what's on section and make sure you follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.