Beccles and Southwold Area Branch (1214)

Branch Newsletter – Summer 2009

Chairman’s Report
Following the successful restart of the Branch in January this year, I am pleased to advise you that due to the hardworking Members of your Committee and Others, we are well on the way to re-establishing ourselves in the Community and in the RAF Family.

Several changes have taken place since the Spring Newsletter and I detail these as follows:

Our Secretary Linda Warren, due to Family commitments, needed to give up her position and was replaced by Mrs Mary Day who took over the reins and “hit the ground running”.

Other changes are that Andy Buckingham has been appointed as out ATC Liaison Officer to 759 (Beccles) Squadron ATC, (you may recall that we adopted the Squadron in March, 2009) and he is also on the Civilian Committee. W/O “Doc” Holliday has joined us as our RAFALO and as a Branch Member. He is a serving member at RAF Honington and has recently been promoted to Warrant Officer.

Our Congratulations go to him and for all the splendid work that he is doing to support the Branch, including the “Wings Appeal” collection of almost £1,000.00 in London. Thank you Doc!

Our Standard Bearer Mr Mike Atkins has been his usual busy self, working on display material and supporting us generally wherever something needs to be done.

Our Hon. Treasurer and Assistant Welfare Officer Margaret Atkins has been keeping the Books and is pleased to advise that we are now out of the Red and making a little money! We have received a number of generous Donations and Members are hard at work generating income at every opportunity.

A number of events this year so far have been attended, including your Chairman and Jean at the S.E. and Eastern Area Conference at Corton on 4th April, also attended by around 400 Delegates and guests, Flag Raising at Lowestoft for Armed Forces Day on June 22nd assisted by our Hon. Secretary Mary Day, followed by a Reception for Veterans at the Yacht Club in Lowestoft on 25th and assisted by Mick Royal, where your Chairman was presented (to his surprise) with a Certificate of Thanks and Recognition for Services to Veterans and Armed Forces Day. I accepted this on behalf of the Branch. This was followed on the Saturday by a Parade of Veterans and a Drum Head Service. We had our Gazebo in place and collected over £400 for “Wings Appeal”.

On 6th July, Jean and I were Guests at RAFA Diss Branch and enjoyed the Social Meeting to pick up a few hints. Their meeting was along very similar lines to our own with about twenty members attending our of a Membership of around 150.

On Sunday 19th July, your Chairman, accompanied by Jean, Margaret Hon.Treasurer, Mary Hon. Secretary and Mick Standard Bearer with our Standard, attended the Dedication of the new Far East Prisoners of War Memorial Parade at Filby. This was well attended by other RAFA Branches and the RBL. A most moving Ceremony.

On Thursday and Friday, 23rd and 24th July we were at the Lowestoft Air Show with our Gazebo and collecting for “Wings Appeal”. We raised approx. £500 and received a thorough drenching in addition, due to thunderstorms on both days.

August 4th saw the sad occasion of the Military Funeral of Sqd.Ldr. Geoffrey Kirrage which was organised by the Branch following an appeal from the family. Around 30 attended and included six Standards and a contingent from RAF Honington. On behalf, I sent a letter of thanks to the O/C RAF Honington commending the Guard of Honour. Air Cadets of 221 Sqdn. Gt. Yarmouth also formed a Guard of Honor.

During the month of August, our Standard Bearer Mick, with Standard, supported by our Hon.Treasurer Margaret and your Hon. Secretary Mary, were involved in a total of four different funerals of departed Comrades. May They Rest in Peace. Donations were received by the Branch for our efforts in supporting the Families.

At our regular Branch Meeting of 20th August, our Guest Speaker was Mrs Maureen Cole OBE, a long serving Member of the Royal British Legion who gave a very interesting talk on Visits to War Graves.

September 5th saw us at the Seething Air Show. The Cadets of 467 (Lowestoft) ATC assisted us with our “Wings Collection” and helped us to hold down our Gazebo which was in danger of blowing away in the strong breeze.

On September 11th, your Chairman, assisted by Jean, Mick, Margaret and Mick Royal spent most of the day at Morrisons Supermarket at Beccles with our display stand, promoting “Wings Appeal”.

We raised approximately £200.00 and had interesting discussions with many ex-RAF Veterans and Branch Members.

September 12th saw the “Wings Appeal” collections at Beccles and Southwold. In Beccles, 759 (Beccles) Sqdn ATC collected on our behalf and in Southwold, Mick Royal represented the Branch and made the collection. Well done Mick!

At our Branch Meeting of 17th September, our Guest Speaker was RAFA Member Mr David Taplin who presented the Branch with a signed print depicting the incident in 1941 of the “downing” of a ME109 near Folkestone by P/O Mackenzie of 501 (County of Gloucester) Sqdn. P/O Mackenzie who had exhausted his ammunition, disabled the Hun by smashing the tailplane of the enemy with his Hurricane wing tip. He returned safely to base, (minus the wing tip). The picture has now been stored in our Archives and will be displayed from time to time at our Meetings.

AT the time of writing, your Chairman, assisted by the Committee Members, is well underway with the preparations for our RAFA Battle of Britain Parade and Memorial Service at St. Benets Minster in Beccles to be held on Sunday, 20th September. Air Cdre. Nicholas Carter OBE MA RAD, will be taking the Salute at the Parade. It is worth noting that of the 3000 approximately Pilots that took part in the Battle, a mere 280 survived! Our gratitude to these brave Pilots and other Personnel is therefore beyond measure.

In recent years during the demise of the Beccles Branch the Service had been held at All Saints Church, Worlingham. Your Chairman inspected the facilities at All Saints, but is was obvious that the accommodation was too small to accommodate the numbers, (150/200) that we were inviting and also there was no provision for the Parade to take place off the Public Roads to comply with the wishes of Beccles Town Council. The Rev. Suzie Ellis and her Husband have been invited to attend our Service at St. Benets Minster as our Guests on the Sunday afternoon. A full report of the Battle of Britain Service will appear in the next Newsletter.

Brian Vousden
Branch Chairman
18th September, 2009

Branch General Meetings
Third Thursday of each month at 7.30 p.m. at the RBL Club, 25 Ravensmere, Beccles. All Branch members are welcome to attend and their Guests.

New Members
We are pleased to welcome all new Members who have recently joined the Branch.

RBL Remembrance Sunday Parade, Sunday 8th November 2009
A timely reminder that this years Parade will be on Sunday 8th November 2009 at 14.00 hrs. at the Beccles War Memorial. The Committee would ask all Branch Members to attend if at all possible. The Branch will be laying wreaths from RAFA Beccles and Southwold Area Branch, The Air Crew Association and the Coastal Command and Maritime Air Association.

Committee Members

Chairman: Mr Brian Vousden Tel: 01502 711519
Hon. Secretary: Mrs Mary Day Tel: 01502 714900
Hon. Treasurer and Ass. Welfare Officer: Mrs Margaret Atkins Tel: 01502 717458
Hon. Welfare Officer: Mr Peter Austin Tel: 01502 722836
Branch Standard Bearer: Mr Mike Atkins
ATC Liaison Officer: Mr Andy Buckingham
Branch Padre: Rev. Dom. Antony Sutch MA (Oxon)

Welfare Matters
Welfare is available to all members of the Royal Air Forces Association and their immediate dependants and is dealt with on the basis of strict confidentiality.

Our two Branch Welfare Officers are working extremely hard behind the scenes with an ever increasing workload and backed up by Case Workers and Area and Head Office. They are all indeed the un-sung heroes of RAFA and deserve our full support.

Computer Buffs: Log on to to see our BLOG pages.

The next Branch meeting is on Thursday 15th October 2009 commencing at 19.30 hrs.