A Safe Return

Last month saw the much anticipated unveiling of the latest addition to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess art collection by way of a commissioning by the Norfolk artist Derek Blois.

Unveiled by the out going Force Commander, Air Cdre Waddington, the painting, entitled ‘Safe Return’ and accompanying plaque commemorate 25 years (so far) of continuous operations for the Tornados of RAF  Marham.

The commissioning of the painting was agreed in principle by Mess members at the AGM in April 2014, concluding a year of close liaison between Derek and the Station. From initial concept, through to the first pencil sketches and on to the final ‘canvas’ the past 12 months has seen Derek visit the Station on numerous occasions. These trips have included squadron, hot pit and heritage centre visits in order to ‘soak up’ the atmosphere and experience as realistically as possible the sights and sounds of an operational fast jet. Captured in outstanding detail and accuracy, it depicts Tango Ramp at Kandahar with the finer points representing the Marham squadrons involved over the years with the various role fits reflected too.

The original work now hangs in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess Dining Room in pride-of-place and was unveiled at a ‘top table’ dinner where the Air Cdre Waddington and Derek were guests of honour. The Air  Cdre marked the ceremony with some personal words of his involvement over the past 25 years which ably captured the occasion. As possibly one of, if not the only still serving Tornado pilot to have spanned this operational period and all theatres, it seemed entirely appropriate that it should fall to him to unveil the work. After lunch Derek Blois took the opportunity to say a few words, explaining the research involved in such a project to get the accuracy required and to achieve such a stunning end result. He was touched to have been invited to the unveiling and deeply honoured to have been a part of Marham history.

The Station has a run of 250 limited edition prints that Derek will sign, Remarque (if desired) and mount and for details of these see the Station Scrolling News or contact CT Chris Thornton or WO Trev Ford. After these 250 have been snapped up, standard prints will be available direct from Derek’s website at www.derekblois.co.uk

It is hoped that the painting will evoke fond and not too troubled memories for those who have served with the Tornado, not only at Kandahar but throughout the world and in another 25 years it will be a reminder to the future SNCOs of its outstanding contribution during its service. Our sincere thanks go to Derek and from the comments so far it’s a big thumbs up from the Station.