Thames Valley Wing played a lead role when over 700 RAF Air Cadets and Adult Volunteers from across the South West Region proudly celebrated RAF100 with an unprecedented parade through the streets of Windsor. With the iconic Windsor Castle in the background, the parade drew hundreds of people onto the streets to watch as a sea of light blue took over the Royal Berkshire town for the day.
During the morning cadets arrived from the six Wings that make up the South-West Region before forming up in Victoria Barracks for last minute rehearsals, and then stepping off to march past Windsor Castle and the Guild Hall, on route to a service of Thanksgiving and celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force.
The service welcomed over 1,000 people at Windsor’s Parish Church of St John the Baptist, and was led by the Deputy Regional Chaplain, Flight Lieutenant Charles Lewis and the Reverend Kathryn Harrison, Chaplain of 459 (Windsor) Squadron. A number of cadets gave readings during the service and the Reverend (Squadron Leader) John Baptiste, the Station Chaplain at Royal Air Force Odiham, delivered a thoroughly enjoyable, engaging and interactive Sermon prior to the cadets formally renewing their Cadet Promise.
Following the Service, the parade re-formed for the formal march past of the Guildhall, led by the Thames Valley Wing Band and accompanied by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Band. The salute was taken by the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and by ex-Thames Valley Wing cadet, Air Vice Marshal Bruce Hedley, in the company of a large number of distinguished guests including the High Sheriff of Berkshire and the South West Regional Commandant, Group Captain Eddie Cole.
Following the parade, Group Captain Cole summed up the views of all those who either participated or watched the parade
“You cannot underestimate how great a contribution that an event like this makes to the maintenance of the ethos of the Corps and the Region, and I am certain that many of those who participated will remember the day for the rest of their lives”
Back at Victoria Barracks, thanks to the generous permission of the Coldstream Guards, all the participating Cadets and Adult Volunteers as well as the large VIP contingent which included Civic Dignitaries from across the local area, massed for a formal group photograph followed by an inspiring address from Air Vice Marshal Hedley, reflecting on his journey from RAF Air Cadet to fighter pilot. Everyone then had an opportunity mingle and chat over a well-earned lunch with cadets from other wings who had joined the parade, and with the members of the VIP party.
Wing Commander Chris Fisher of Thames Valley Wing summed up the day
“This was something we had planned to do as our main Wing RAF100 celebration, but I was very pleased when the Regional Commandant asked if we could expand the scope of the day to include representatives from across the South West Region – it made an already special event even more fitting as a celebration of the Royal Air Force, an opportunity to commemorate those who have gone before us, and as an inspiration to the RAF Air Cadets – our next generation.”