Community will miss yellow helicopters

Branton Community First School with one of the RAF Boulmer Sea Kings.
Branton Community First School with one of the RAF Boulmer Sea Kings.

As we move into the last week in which search and rescue cover is provided from RAF Boulmer, residents have been sharing their memories.

It is clear that people from across north Northumberland are going to miss seeing the yellow Sea Kings in our skies after next Wednesday (September 30).

Longhoughton and Boulmer WIl. Picture by Joan Ford.

Longhoughton and Boulmer WIl. Picture by Joan Ford.

Pictured above are pupils and staff from Branton Community First School during a visit to RAF Boulmer last year after an invite from Squadron Leader Emma Landy.

Theresa McCann said: “Emma’s daughter Eva attended our school while they were stationed at Boulmer.

“The staff and children had a wonderful time and were thrilled to be able to step aboard the helicopter and watch a training exercise.

“We were also shown how the winches worked and how the lifejackets and dinghies were prepared for rescue missions.

Adam Baker with one of the Sea Kings.

Adam Baker with one of the Sea Kings.

“The thing the children will miss most, I am sure, is the visit by Father Christmas as he annually flew over the school with RAF Boulmer and waved at everyone.”

Some who are now adults also look back fondly on seeing the helicopters as children.

David Hopper, from Craster, said: “As children living in Newcastle in the 50/60s, our treat was to come by train as a family and stay in Embleton or Bamburgh for our holidays. We spent days on the beach. Loaded with towels, deckchairs, a Calor gas stove to boil the kettle and make the tea plus egg and tomato sandwiches, we made the long trek for our short legs from the village to the beach.

“Mum and Dad sat on the deckchairs behind the wind break reading the papers while we played and paddled.

“If we were really lucky the yellow rescue helicopter would fly down the length of the beach and we would wave at the crewmen who waved back.”

Sue Gibson, who has just retired from the St Aidan Hotel on the seafront at Seahouses, said: “Years ago, I worked at the RVI in accident and emergency and I was privileged, along with others in the department, to be given the chance to fly in the Sea King at Boulmer, which was just amazing,

“Over the last 11 years, I have seen some great sights of the Sea Ling landing opposite the hotel and making rescues out at sea.”

Adam Baker, also pictured, shared a photo which features him next to an RAF Boulmer Sea King during an exercise with the crew about two years ago. He isn’t the only one who will look back on exercises with the helicopter crews. Last week, the Coastguard crews from Amble and Howick took part in their final evening exercise before saying farewell.

Our Sea King: A poem

In Northumberland we have a King

Big, yellow and more precious than Ming

It flies over our countryside and sea

Saving those in peril wherever they may be

Since childhood days we’ve seen it fly

Engine thrumming across the sky

My Granddad used to say they went to meet

Those walking the hills in stocking feet

They fly along the coast keeping an eye

Returning our waves from high in the sky

It’s been in Boulmer 30 years in May

It’s my fervent wish it will always stay.

by Sarah Clark, March 2009