RAF Wittering personnel parade through Stamford

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HUNDREDS of people turned out to watch an anniversary parade in Stamford on Wednesday.

RAF Wittering personnel marched through the town centre to celebrate it being 50 years since the station was granted the freedom of the town.

The original honour was conferred by Stamford Borough Council on July 1, 1961 in front of Browne’s Hospital and it was here that a similar ceremony was held this week.

The parade formed up at the Star Lane end of Broad Street, from where the freedom sword bearer and scroll bearer, with escorts and markers, were led by the station warrant officer to the reviewing area in front of the hospital and the town war memorial. Led by the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment, the rest of the 150 airmen and women marched to join them.

Stamford Mayor, Coun John Binder and RAF Wittering’s recently appointed Station Commander, Group Captain Richard Hill, joined other civic dignitaries and guests on the balcony for a general salute at 11am. This was accompanied by a spectacular flypast by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

In a short address, the mayor said he was honoured to be standing next to Sq Ldr Richard Armstrong who led the parade 50 years ago.

“It was in 1916 that RAF Wittering was established. They have been our neighbours for 95 years and have never given us cause for concern. The Freedom of Stamford is our way of showing them our respect and may our friendship last for many more years,” he said.

Gp Capt Hill thanked the mayor and Stamford for the great honour that had been bestowed on them.

“My predecessor many times removed would have been honoured to receive this award. Our thanks go to the town for all the support you have given us over the years and I look forward to building links with Stamford and to go from strength to strength for another 50 years.” he said.

The mayor and station commander then walked to the town hall balcony to await the march past.

The parade marched along Ironmonger Street, High Street, St John’s Street and St Mary’s Street and then down St Mary’s Hill and past the town hall for an ‘eyes left’ at the assembled dignitaries and on across the town bridge into Station Road where the parade disbanded. People lined the route, came out of shops and hung out of upstairs windows to see the parade go by, many of them applauding.

A reception at the town hall followed.