Happy 100 RAF
As the RAF celebrates its 100th birthday, Oxfordshire County Council Chairman Cllr Zoe Patrick shares her letter to the two RAF Stations in the county celebrating the long relationship between us.
Dear Group Captains Timothy Jones and Hamish Cormack,
As the RAF marks its 100 birthday today, it is a fitting occasion to reflect on the long partnership between the RAF and the people of Oxfordshire and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of RAF personnel and their families who are, or have been, based in the county.
There has been a long and close relationship with RAF Brize Norton since opening in 1937 and with RAF Benson since 1939. There is also a great deal of justifiable pride with both stations playing important roles in the Second World War and subsequent conflicts.
We have seen Brize Norton grow until it is now the UK’s largest RAF base home to 5,800 Service Personnel, 1,200 contractors and 300 civilian staff. Since the closure of RAF Lyneham in 2011, Brize Norton once more became the base at which fallen armed services personnel were received back in to our country for repatriation. Indeed, as Chairman, I have joined with local people at the Memorial Garden at Brize Norton to support bereaved families and show respect for the fallen on behalf of people all over Oxfordshire and the UK.
RAF Benson continues to be our main helicopter operating base and is also home to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, which has been a lifesaver for residents and visitors to our county.
Oxfordshire County Council was the first to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and I was proud to have been one of the first signatories on this important document. We have a great deal of respect for the military and continue to play our part to ensure that what we signed up to then has still an important role to play today.
I do hope that you have had continued contact with our military champions among our county councillors. However, in Oxfordshire we all have a strong sense that we are champions for and supporters of our military personnel. Having two RAF stations here in our county means we are proud to host both.
So, on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council, I should like to pass on our best wishes to all service personnel and their families, and thank them for their huge contribution to Oxfordshire communities. I also hope that we shall continue to enjoy successful relations with both RAF Brize Norton and RAF Benson in the future.
Councillor Zoé Patrick
Oxfordshire County Council