RAF Boulmer commander leaves ‘with a heavy heart’

Group Captain Paul Atkinson hands over command to Group Captain Mark Coleman.
Group Captain Paul Atkinson hands over command to Group Captain Mark Coleman.

After what he has described the best tour of his career, Group Captain Paul Atkinson has handed over command of RAF Boulmer to Group Captain Mark Coleman.

Group Captain Atkinson arrived in July 2012, at the start of an extremely busy period for the station when it played a vital role in Air Security for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In his first week in command, RAF Boulmer hosted visits from the Prince of Wales and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, the then Chief of the Air Staff.

“It was a baptism of fire, but gratifying to see that RAF Boulmer’s important role in UK Air Defence was being recognised,” he said.

“I have been so proud to command this very special station and proud of the men and women who serve here, be they service personnel, MoD civil servants or our contractor partners.

“There have been so many highlights it is difficult to list them all, but a few that stand out are the 2012 Olympics and Prince Charles’ visit, visiting our personnel on deployed operations around the world and, of course, RAF Boulmer’s 60th anniversary in 2013 and the magnificent sight of six flights of RAF Boulmer personnel marching through Alnwick – not to mention the Continuity Drill Team performing with the wonderful sight of Alnwick Castle and the Pastures in the background.

“However, the one thing that will always spring to mind when I look back on my two years here is the warmth of the welcome that Siân, Charlotte, Olivia and I have been given wherever we have gone.

“Like everybody based at RAF Boulmer, we really do feel at home in this special part of the country.

“We will leave with heavy hearts and we will return.”

Group Captain Coleman arrives at RAF Boulmer from Headquarters Air Command at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.