Hundreds lined the streets for this afternoon’s parade in Alnwick to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, but there was disappointment as the RAF Boulmer Sea King was called out on an operation, meaning there was no flypast.
The parade, led by the Band of the 5th Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and featuring RAF Boulmer officers and airmen, Air Cadets, veterans and standard bearers, offered a chance for residents to remember the brave men and women that defended the country from aerial attack by the Luftwaffe in 1940 as well as paying tribute to those who lost their lives.
But the prospect of a flypast by one of the yellow Sea Kings from RAF Boulmer, ahead of the disbandment of 202 Squadron and the end of the search and rescue service being based in Northumberland at the end of the month, surely helped to swell the crowds.
It was set to add poignancy to the occasion, enabling the crews to thank the community for its support over the 40 years 202 has been based at Boulmer as the community in turn expressed its gratitude.
But, as if to underline how valuable the service is, the helicopter was tasked just minutes before the parade took place.
The parade was preceded by a Service of Thanksgiving at St Michael’s Church: “Never in the field of conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Guide me O though great Redeemer, O ruler of the earth and sky, I vow to thee my country and the National Anthem were sung, while a collection was made for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and St Michael’s Church.
In the above video, by Jane Coltman, you can hear from some of the members of the public in attendance as well as RAF Boulmer Station Commander, Group Captain Mark Coleman, and the Duke of Northumberland.