RAF Honington have hosted a Tea Party inviting local veterans from the surrounding communities today.
The Military Veterans Tea Party was held at the recently refurbished Honington Social Club thanks to a collaboration of Charities and led by Wing Commander Suzi Senior as the Station SSAFA Team Lead. SSAFA the Armed Forces Charity, the Royal Air Forces Association and the RAF Benevolent Fund each have representatives at RAF Honington that volunteer to work with our local branches.
Station Commander Group Captain Dutch Holland gave a warm welcome to all attendees and thoroughly enjoyed the quality time out of his busy schedule.
SSAFA National Vice Chairman Wing Commander Kirsty Bushell thanked RAF Honington and said:
…you really are the shining light and star in our Serving Community team … it is a real privilege to be here today and be a part of such a generous engaged day in the run up to Christmas.
Extra thanks go to the RAF Benevolent Fund who kindly donated £500 for Christmas Hampers which enabled Station volunteers to fill with locally purchased goodies and were issued to over 30 veterans today, with more hampers being personally delivered by Station volunteers next week.
As we continue to emerge from the clutches of COVID-19 many measures still remain but the engagement with our local and particularly the elderly veterans is of utmost importance and this was a chance for the local RAF and Service community to give back to those that have served our country. Veteran members of the charitable branches of Thetford, Watton, Stowmarket, Diss and Bury St Edmunds attended and were hosted by both Station volunteers and Charity Engagement workers.
Several Veterans have spent time at RAF Honington during their careers with Ray Kidd a previous Station Warrant Officer and Barry Chittock previously an Aircraft Electrician with many detachments to RAF Honington when it was a flying station.
The oldest Veteran in attendance today at 102 years young, John Franklin is the oldest surviving Polish Airman from WW2. John joined the Polish Forces in 1942 and made the long arduous journey to the UK arriving in Blackpool in 1943. The Polish recruits were processed and John elected to join the RAF as a Radio Operator assigned to Squadron 304 as part of the crew of 6 flying in Wellington Bombers. Squadron 304 was based in the Outer Hebrides, Cornwall, Essex & lastly in Chedburgh, Suffolk. The crews were initially involved in bombings over Germany & later undertook reconnaissance missions focussed on anti- submarine warfare. He later became a successful businessman in Bury St. Edmunds.