Cockpit Last updated on 9th October 2016 / 16:00 h
Welcome to the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA)
Kenley & Caterham Branch
Airmen's Memorial at St Luke's
Following our successful fundraising forthe new memorial plaques to be placed inside St Luke's church a reception for donors and members was held at St Luke's church on Wednesday, 5th October. Some 30 visitors attended and were greeted with a glass of prosecco from the hessian Rhine Valley, a gift by the fundraising organiser Hartmut Klein who has his roots in H esse. In his opening words Hartmut recalled the initial meeting between St Luke's and RAFA at which Reverend Tim Goode set out his vision to reorder the chuch around a narrative about its links with Kenley Airfield and the RAF. This also meant to have the names of the fallen buried at Airmen's Corner inside the church. St Luke's as the parish of RAFA's domicile on Kenley Airfield invited RAFA to place this new Airmen's Memorial in the sanctuary. The idea was instantly embraced by RAFA and Hartmut volunteered to initiate a fundraising campaign. Following Hartmut's opening words, Mike Roach emphasised the importance of the bond between St Luke's and RAFA. Reverend Tim then explained to the audience his narrative for St Luke's and the reordering of the church in this context. He also suggested that the discussed stone-plaques should be better made of wood with gold-leaf lettering to match the interior of the church. It can be expected that the new plaques would be in place by summer 2017. The offical part of the evening was concluded by Reverend Tim with a recitation of the poem "Lie in the dark and listen" by Noel Coward and a prayer. After that the visitors had a closer look at the freshly refurbished and reordered features in the sanctuary.
Battle-of-Britain Week 2016
Here are some images to show our activities during this year's commemorative events.
A Heritage Day Deluxe
A glorious late-summer day provided a perfect setting for the most successful Heritage Day so far on Kenley Airfield. The Kenley Airfield Friends organised this Heritage Day on the Sunday, 11th September 2016, to publicly launch the Kenley Revival Project. RAFA hosted this event on its Portcullis Field and also participated by opening the Portcullis Club to the public. The bar team had a frantic time and sold more than 1,600 pints of beer and other drinks. We also ran a stall selling merchandise and bric-a-brac in aid of our Wings Appeal and Welfare activities. Vera Harvey offered video cassettes and books to top up the welfare account. Kirstie Gibson, Mavis Harriott, Mike Roach and Carl Roche handed out many RAFA windmills to kids and sold badges, teddy bears and RAFA ducks to the discerning public. As usual we had our ‘Lucky Airbase’ game available for the younger aviation enthusiasts. At times up to seven kids queued to direct the Harrier Jet to the ‘Lucky Airfield’ under the skilful supervision of ‘air traffic controller’ Hartmut Klein. All of that proved to be so popular that we almost ran out of merchandise and the ‘Lucky Airfield’ had to be closed early because of acute shortage of prizes. However, the sweetest RAFA attraction of the day was Evelyn’s Cake stall which sold out completely by mid-afternoon. Evelyn Klein spent the day before to bake 12 cakes (incl. Black Forest Gateau). Even a last minute supply of left-over cake from the events the day before could not satisfy the demand. It is fair to say that nobody of the volunteer team complained when closing time neared and footfall eased…..
By the way, the 2 man band playing to the audience gathered in front of the Portcullis Club did a marvellous job. A very good entertainment!
Old Coulsdon Grange Park Fair
Cancelled back in July due to the poor sodden ground conditions, this year's Grange Park Fair finally took place on the 10th September, one of the few wet days at the end of this summer. Many stalls were blown away by the strong winds and later the rain set in and spoilt much of the fun. However, many people came out braving the bad weather. Our stall still got much attention and we mananged to raise some money for our Wings Appeal.
Kenley's Hardest Day Commemorations
This year marked the 76th anniversary of Kenley's Hardest on 18th August 2016. As it is tradition the commemoration took place on the Sunday after the day. Reverend Tim Goode from St Luke's Whyteleafe and our RAFA Branch's chairman Mike Roach led the remembrance and Mike laid a wreath in honour of the fallen servicemen and women at the Tribute on Kenley Airfield. The Branch Standard was presented by our secretary Ken Bolton. A small congregation of RAFA members and friends gathered before and around the Tribute to attend the ceremony.
ACO Torch Relay came to Kenley Airfield
2016 is the year of the 75th Anniversary for the Air Cadet Organisation. To mark the occasion a UK-wide Torch Relay was organised that has engaged Sqn Cadets from all four corners of the country.
Coinciding with Kenley’s Hardest Day (76th Anniversary) on the 18th August, the Torch Relay came to Kenley Airfield. Our Branch was present to greet the Air Cadets on arrival. As RAFA is a sponsor of the Torch Relay, we had a free prize draw prepared. The challenge was to guess 'What is the wingspan of a Red Arrow BAE Hawk T1A?'. The correct answer is 9.4 metres. Eight Cadets guessed correctly or came very close. So it was our pleasure to present our prizes to the winners: a book about Aviation, a box filled with French biscuits, and a lot of RAFA merchandise. Apart from our prize draw, the Air Cadets had the opportunity to climb an 'artificial rock' and take part in archery. A barbecue organised by 450 Squadron solved the problem of how to feed hungry souls. Shortly after 1pm the Torch Relay left Kenley for their next station.
BBMF over Kenley
The Friends of Kenley Airfield Group have informed that the new website of the Kenley Revival Project has gone live now. To see for yourself the wealth of information provided on this page just click here: www.kenleyrevival.org
Armed Forces Day - 25.06.2016
For the third time now our Branch has marked Armed Forces Day by having a stall in Croydon North End. As on the previous occassions we were supported by our Kenley 450 Squadron ATC. For this we are very grateful because it boosts our recognition by the public and hence the donations we receive. Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side this time. At 2pm a thunderstorm cut our presence short. Inspite of this we had a resonable result and would like to thank the public for their generous donations for our Wings Appeal and St Luke's Appeal respectively.
Croydon Heritage Day
Saturday, 18th of June, saw many of our local history and heritage groups displaying their work in Croydon's North End. Amongst them the Kenley Revival Project, Croydon Airport Society and East Surrey Family History Society. As the photos below show there was a lot on....
Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance
Although our 'Fish n' Chips' lunch wasn't expected to cause any harm we had called the Air Ambulance before the event. Yes, we are talking about our latest lunch event on Saturday, 11th June, at the Portcullis Club in aid of our Branch Welfare.
Some 50 people gathered to enjoy another lovely dish prepared by 'The Frying Squad', i.e. Eamon's well-known F&C van. This was followed by a very informative talk about the work, operations and funding of the 'Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance'. Shaida Dorabjee, a volunteer fundraiser of the Air Ambulance charity, joined us to talk about the good work done by this extremely specialised ambulance team. We even learned about the types of helicopters currently in use and the new generation coming in soon. Shaida earned a lot of applause for her talk and the circulating collection tin came back full of donations for the charity. As usual our event closed with the much anticipated raffle. Our thanks go to all who attended and gave so generously to our Welfare fund and - of course - the Air Ambulance.
Our RAFA Pilot Duck still enjoys Neu-Anspach very much!
A group of RAFA and Bourne Society members came to Neu-Anspach on 6th May to attend the annual gathering of the twinned towns of Neu-Anspach (Germany), Sentjur (Slovenia) and Saint-Florent sur Cher (France) in order to find out if Kenley and Caterham can join the club!!! On this occassion it was a point of honour to meet and greet our RAFA duck at the local pub 'Zur Linde'. RAFA duck is well and looks forward to the summer season and a busy beergarden.
Headley Court Engineering
A crowd of more than 50 people flocked to the Portcullis Club on Saturday, 16th April, to hear about the extraordinary work done by a very specialised team at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court. Flt Sgt Dave Barr and his team gave a fascinating insight into how a world-leading service to rehabilitate injured and disabled service personnel from not only the RAF but also the Army and Royal Navy is being delivered. This even includes the manufacturing of state-of-the-art artificial limps exactly to the specific needs of the patient. This interesting talk closed with a well used Q&A session and a huge round of applause for the Headley Court team.
The proceeds of this event, which started with a lovely fish and chips lunch and finished with a well-stocked raffle, will go to RAFA's Wings Appeal.
Greetings from sunny Neu-Anspach
Our RAFA pilot duck, which found her way to the well in the lovely beergarden of the Gasthaus Zur Linde in Neu-Anspach is well and fit. Here we can see how much she enjoys the company of the other German ducks. However, our duck has a job to do. It is to comfort her companion with the red eagle crest of the Bundesliga football club Eintracht Frankfurt. This is because Eintracht Frankfurt is extremely likely to be relegated to the second league come June...... Let's hope our duck can cheer her up a little bit.
Impressions from the RAFA Area meeting
This year’s South East and Eastern Area Annual Conference took place over the first weekend in April in the South Downs Holiday Village on the Bracklesham Bay, just south of Chichester. A meeting of the area’s delegates which is not just a conference but very much a reunion of veterans and longstanding friends. The sometimes lengthy conference debates were, however, sweetened by performances of the RAF Halton Band and interesting talks by Wing Commander Donna Robinson about Air Traffic Control at RAF Swanwick and by Squadron Leader Ady Morris about the vital work done by the RAFA Liaison Officers, short RAFALOs. The traditional Sunset Ceremony was held on Saturday evening and the conference closed with the also traditional parade.
‘Find Your London’ was the headline of a London-wide festival to explore our outdoor spaces. Thanks to the Kenley Airfield Friends Group (KAFG) our airfield was part of this event, advertised on the Mayor-of-London’s website as ‘Kenley RAF Airfield Heritage Festival ‘. Most of the action took place on RAFA’s Portcullis field and at the adjacent hangars.
KAFG had their gazebo erected beside the club house. On offer were guided heritage tours around the airfield, information about the planned preservation work and warm drinks to help cope with the murky weather.
Next to KAFG came our stall, offering RAFA merchandise, our ‘Lucky Airport’ game and information on our fund-raising appeal to help fund the proposed new Airmen Memorial inSt Luke’s Church Whyteleafe. Evelyn’s savoury bakery was also well received and sold fast.
The hangars just outside of the Portcullis Field saw plenty of flying action as the Croydon Model Aircraft Club converted this area to miniature runways. The air was buzzing with the model aircraft and spectators were stunned by the acrobatic displays performed. Despite the unpleasant weather many people made the way and enjoyed the afternoon ‘outdoors’.