Families & Friends Day 2015!

The Families and Friends Day at RAF Marham is always an exciting and popular day and is a highlight of the summer. This year’s event was no exception and, with the theme that celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, it was a fantastic afternoon that was packed with breath-taking flying and ground displays that lasted from midday until early evening.

The event’s organiser Sqn Ldr Steve Donnellan was keen to make it a Families and Friends Day to remember, he said, “This event is a very special day which enables families and friends of serving personnel to come onto the Station and see what their loved ones do. There are many static displays where people can ask questions and children can understand what their serving parent’s role is, as well as a significant number of enjoyable activities for all ages. We also put together a knockout flying display and this year we have been fortunate to include the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flying with a Typhoon, the RAF Falcons and many other military, historic and civilian aircraft displays.”

The event is a welldeserved treat for the families and many local dignitaries, friends, companies and contractors that support the Station. As the Unit transitions from operating Tornado to Lightning II aircraft, this year has seen close liaison with the local USAFE stations at RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath that provided a significant number of aircraft and ground displays. A key engagement event on the Station’s calendar, it is an opportunity to showcase some of the work that is undertaken by the highly skilled personnel at RAF Marham. This year a number of charities that Station has supported were invited. The Service charities such as RAFA, SSAFA, the RAF Benevolent Fund and the British Legion were present along with others who have assisted Service families in need of their help. The Families and Friends Day Committee also invited 30 children who were under the care of some of the charities that the Station supports. The children were provided with VIP access to the aircraft and ground displays and undertook the salute, with the Station Commander, from the Officer In Charge of the RAF Falcons following their parachute display.

RAF Marham is a huge community contributor and many personnel work tirelessly throughout the year raising funds in their own time for causes close to their hearts. Janet Qualters is one of these people, who has been raising money for the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow charity for ten years, at last count the total raised was nearly £90,000. In addition to this she is organising clinics across the RAF to recruit potential donors for life saving bone marrow transplants. Janet was at the event and said, “What a fantastic day and one where children and parents had a real day for family memories. Not only were there children from Anthony Nolan, this year we had Diabetic families, Thrombosis UK and children from Nelson’s Journey who were also hosted by Chf Tech Stef Poole. To everyone who has contributed to making this a very special day and one to remember, big thank you.”

RAF Station Commander Air Cdre Harvey Smyth is due to hand over command of the base later this month, he said, “Families and Friends Day is an incredibly important event since it’s the one formal day in our annual calendar when we, as a Station, have the opportunity to give something back to those people who support us every day of every year. Sqn Ldrs Donnellan and Case have done a fantastic job pulling together what can only be described as a best-in-class event, and I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them, and their team, for all the hard work and effort that has gone on behind the scenes. I would also like to thank all our sponsors who have so graciously donated money to allow today to happen: without their support, we simply wouldn’t be able to make this happen. This is my last formal engagement as Station Commander, as I hand over command of RAF Marham next week – I can’t think of a better way to complete what has been a phenomenally rewarding and enjoyable tour.”

The Families and Friends Day ended in style with a 1940’s party that was enjoyed by over 1,000 personnel in a hangar with an historic aircraft as a backdrop. RAF Marham personnel have been privileged to see some of the RAF and USAFE’s most exciting aircraft displaying with the added bonus of the Norfolk weather being exceptionally kind!

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