Wednesday, April 13, 2011
CROWDS lined the streets of Huntingdon yesterday (April 12) to watch troops from RAF Brampton and Wyton exercise their right to the Freedom of the town.
SERVICEmen and women from RAF Brampton and RAF Wyton were greeted by a cheering crowd of hundreds as they exercised their right to march through Huntingdon yesterday, marking the RAF’s long association with the district.
Fifteen service personnel from the Army, Navy and RAF marched to Market Hill by the war memorial to join the Wyton Voluntary Band. Overhead, a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter carried out a noisy fly-past.
The men and women from the armed forces were greeted in the market square by Huntingdon deputy mayor Councillor Susan Mulcahy, Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly and the mayors of St Ives, St Neots and Ramsey.
They were joined by RAF station commander Group Captain Bea Walcot for a ceremony to mark the freedom, which was granted to RAF Wyton on September 7, 1955. The honour was given in recognition of the close ties and friendship developed between the community and the base during the Second World War.
The freedom was extended to RAF Brampton in 1995, and the ancient honour allows both bases the privilege of marching into the town – one of the highest civic honours available in the Commonwealth of Nations, but one the RAF had not exercised since 2005.
Cllr Mulcahy, who received a general salute from the troops, told The Hunts Post: “It was a very enjoyable day, of which Huntingdon should be very proud. I was very pleased to see so many people support the occasion.”
Following the Mayor’s inspection of the servicemen and women, Group Captain Walcot thanked the people of Huntingdonshire for their enduring support over the years.
Afterwards she told The Hunts Post: “The parade provides an opportunity for my guys to represent what we did in 1955, when we were kindly honoured with the highest honour a town can bestow.
“We have been extremely fortunate to have such a supportive community who have not only coped with the various changes in role of the stations, but also the constant upheaval in movement of personnel.
“This gives us the chance to re-exercise our freedom and thank the citizens of Huntingdon.”
Following speeches from Huntingdon town clerk Karen Cameron and Group Captain Walcot, parade commander Squadron Leader Paul Tuite led the men and women, including six RAF veterans from the Royal Airforce Association (RAFA) along the High Street.
Mr Djanogly added: “Wyton has been part of the fabric of the community since the First World War. Today is all about re-inventing and enhancing those bonds and it’s a wonderful occasion for the town.”