On Sunday 1st April Royal Air Force staff past and present gathered in London to commemorate the RAF’s much anticipated centenary.
Members old and new joined industry partners and representatives from the Royal Air Force Association and Royal Air Force Air Cadets to officially kick-off RAF100 – a six month celebration of the RAF.
On the site of the former Hotel Cecil – headquarters to the newly-formed RAF in 1918 – Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier accompanied Air Marshal and RAF Association President Sir Baz North to get proceedings underway.
“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,” said Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff.
“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.”
Breakfast was followed by a traditional Founders’ Day Service held at St Clements Dane, the official church of the Royal Air Force. There, the Royal Air Force Association Standards – led in procession by a band from the Royal Air Force Pipes and Drums – helped commemorate those who had given their lives over the past 100 years.
Also in attendance was the Rt Hon Earl Howe, Minister of State in the House of Lords for Defence who took time to reflected on the importance of the occasion: “Today the Royal Air Force celebrates its Centenary. For 100 years, their dedicated and professional airmen and women have given their utmost to protect this nation and its place in the world. I would like to record my thanks for their service and my congratulations on achieving this milestone.”
At the Royal Courts of Justice the event came to a close with the launch of the RAF100 baton relay. The baton, designed by RAF apprentices to represent a century of service to the UK, will visit every British region and several overseas locations from 1st April to 10th July 2018.
Many were the messages of support received throughout the day, including one from Prime Minister Theresa May who had this to say: “From helping to defeat fascism in the Battle of Britain to taking the fight to Daesh in Iraq and Syria, the RAF has kept us safe for 100 years. In this centenary year we honour all the personnel who have served and continue to serve with such valour around the world.”
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