Freedom of Wallingford Parade
Over 120 personnel from RAF Benson paraded through Wallingford on 22 June 2017 to commemorate 60yrs since the award of the Freedom of Wallingford to the Station, with his Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent in attendance.
Two flights of 52 personnel, plus the 3 Squadron standard parties representing 28, 33 and 230 Squadrons, paraded across the Wallingford Bridge and into the town centre, accompanied by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. They were greeted with rapturous applause from hundreds of families and local residents that had gathered, while children waved flags in celebration of the event.
The Station was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Wallingford on 12 August 1957, which allows personnel to march through the town with “drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed”. The personnel proudly marched over the medieval bridge and into the market town where they performed a Royal Salute to His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent who attended the event as the Royal Reviewing Officer. He was joined by the Station Commander, Group Captain Hamish Cormack, and the Mayor of Wallingford, Councillor Michael Kidley, in inspecting
Following the inspection, the replica scroll was marched on by Flying Officer Claire Graham before the Parade Commander, Wing Commander Marty Lock, led the parade through the town centre to perform a march past on the way to the Kinecroft. As they marched past His Royal Highness and saluted, a Puma and Chinook helicopter from RAF Benson performed a perfectly time flypast. The parade dispersed on the Kinecroft and joined families, friends and local residents in enjoying the displays on offer, which included an opportunity to look around static Puma and Chinook helicopters as well as a fantastic rendition of classic and popular music from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
Councillor Michael Kidley, Mayor of Wallingford, was thrilled for the town to host the event. He said: “This is a great day for Wallingford. I first came to the area in 1961 as an airman with the RAF, serving with the General Engineering Flight at RAF Benson and today has just been brilliant to see all the guys and girls parading through the town.”
Group Captain Hamish Cormack, Station Commander of RAF Benson, said:
“It is a genuine honour for RAF Benson to hold the Freedom of Wallingford. Today we were privileged to have Prince Michael of Kent as Royal Reviewing Officer. To see the Station march through with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed was a magnificent sight. This was clearly appreciated by the gathered crowds with spontaneous applause and kids waving Union Jacks. This serves to reinforce the genuine warmth felt between RAF Benson and the local town of Wallingford.”