PERSONNEL from RAF Cottesmore marched through the village for the last time today.
Crowds of villagers, some with tears in their eyes, looked on as the parade marched from the base to the end of the village as a final reminder that the base will no longer exist in its current form from today.
RAF Cottesmore is due to close for good in March 2012, but for the next year it will act as a satellite base for RAF Wittering.
The parade marched along Main Street in Cottesmore where they were cheered on by children at St Nicholas Primary School, before they saluted to Lord Lieutenant of Rutland Laurence Howard.
Mr Howard said: “It’s a very moving occasion but it’s one where we can celebrate the wonderful work of RAF Cottesmore over 70 years.
“It’s an enormous privilege for me to be here today but my heart is with those who are moving on and who have served the local community and the county so well.”
Among the people from the village wishing them well was 90-year-old Dorothy Reader of Gainsborough Court, Cottesmore, who has lived in the village her whole life.
She watched the parade with her daughter Jan Harvey, 59, of Wenton Close, Cottesmore.
Jan said: “My mum is 90 so she was around during the war and has always been interested in RAF Cottesmore.
“They have been fantastic for the community and especially to the older people in the village.”
Dorothy said: “They have been wonderful. It’s an upsetting and a sad day.”
The personnel are now at a service in All Saints Church, Oakham, and they will parade through the town from Church Street to Rutland County Museum at 2.45pm.
As many people as possible are being encouraged to turn out to support the serviceman and women in their last march.