Village’s farewell to RAF Cottesmore

THE closure of RAF Cottesmore will be marked with a march through the village.

Officials at the base are in the early stages of planning a farewell day, which will take place on March 31.

Although details and times are yet to be confirmed, there will be a march with a band through Cottesmore with the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland Dr Laurence Howard taking the salute.

There will be a thanksgiving service at All Saint’s Church in Church Street, Oakham, followed by a reception in town.

About 120 service personnel will attend the church service along with a host of invited guests including town dignitaries.

Sqn Ldr Paula Willmot, spokesman for RAF Cottesmore, said: “It will be a day of thanksgiving and commemoration for RAF Cottesmore, particularly for the people of Cottesmore who have supported the base.

“The personnel will be marching from one end of the village to the other.”

Sqn Ldr Willmot said there would also be private events taking place at the base.

About 150 invited guests from Cottesmore and Greetham have also been invited to view the Harriers for one last time on Tuesday.

Sqn Ldr Willmot said all the places were filled and added: “It is for people who have pre-registered to say a personal and final farewell. There will be about 150 of the residents of both villages.”

Cottesmore Parish Council chairman Janice Patient said: “It will be a shame for the base to close because it has been a big part of the village but I think people will appreciate the efforts they are going to.”

Mrs Patient said the station commander Group Capt Gary Waterfall would also be attending a church service in Cottesmore on Sunday, March 27.

RAF Cottesmore will become a satellite of RAF Wittering from April 1, until it finally closes in 2013.

The Harrier jump jets, of which two squadrons were based at RAF Cottesmore, were grounded in December after they were scrapped during the Government’s strategic defence review. It is likely the Harriers will be sold. The three squadrons, including one which was based at RAF Wittering, were officially disbanded last month.