Even in the presence of royalty, the Few inevitably steal the show – and it was Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM who did just that at July’s Memorial Day commemorations at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, near Folkestone.
Wing Commander Farnes, two weeks short of his 100th birthday, took centre stage at a moving event that included a display by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and music from the RAF Central Band.
The event was held in the presence of the Trust’s Patron, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, who was welcomed by the Lord- Lieutenant of Kent, The Viscount De L’Isle MBE.
As well as marking the 25th anniversary of the unveiling of the National Memorial to the Few by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, this year’s Memorial Day marked the 100th anniversary of the RAF.
Cranbrook School was delighted to receive a visit by HRH The Princess Royal on Tuesday 12 June to celebrate its fifth centenary year. The Princess Royal, who was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, made an extensive tour of the school site, meeting a large number of staff and students along the way, before opening the new Sixth Form Centre. The two-storey building features a relaxed sitting and games area downstairs, with a kitchen, and an extensive quiet study area on the first floor.
Amongst those students who were thrilled to have an opportunity to speak with the Princess were those in the historic new Year 7 intake, Physics specialists on hand to demonstrate the school’s Observatory, and senior Sixth Form students who showed off the new Sixth Form facility.
HRH concluded her visit by speaking to the whole school including pupils from Cranbrook Primary School who are due to join the school in September. Her recollections of her time at all-girls Benenden School and the occasional social gatherings with the boys at Cranbrook brought a smile to everyone’s faces.
Headmaster Dr John Weeds said, “This has been the real highlight of an already special year. Cranbrook is 500 years old this year and is celebrating in so many different ways this summer. This was the icing on the cake!”
The Duke of Kent arrived on the Isle of Sheppey greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant, and started his visit at the Guildhall Museum at Queenborough to meet the Charter 650 Committee which was formed to celebrate 650 years of the town’s Royal Charter which was given by King Edward lll.
The Duke then toured the fire-damaged Dockyard Church at Blue Town where Will Palin and the Sheerness Dockyard Preservation Trust are masterminding a multi-million make-over to bring the building back to community use. for more information https://sdpt.org.uk/
After lunch, the Duke was driven to Eastchurch to inspect the Aviation Museum which is gearing up to celebrate 100 years of the RAF and was met by manager Peter West and trustees Martin and Rosemary Hawkins. Eastchurch played a pivotal role in the creation of the RAF and is widely hailed as the birthplace of British aviation.
The Princess Royal was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant when visiting the County on 1st December and was escorted to the following destinations –
The Princess Royal opened the new £10million Goatham packhouse and coldstore. Named the Arthur Goatham building after company founder and father of Clive Goatham , the packhouse is located at Flanders Farm, Hoo. The Princess was met by the senior management team of AC Goatham, where she was given a tour around the new state-of-the art facility. She also met members of staff, local dignitaries and unveiled a plaque. Arthur Goatham set up the business with his wife Phyllis in 1947 and they began as agricultural contractors and together with their son Clive, purchased their first farm, Street Farm in Hoo in the 1980s. Since then they have expanded their fruit growing business across 27 farms in Medway and Kent, growing some 200 million apples and 50 million pears each year which are sold in supermarkets across the UK.
The Princess Royal officially opened the Copper Rivet Distillery which is based in Pump No.5 at Chatham Dockyard. The family-run company produce Dockyard Gin, Vela Vodka and Son of a Gun – an unaged grain spirit with a whisky flavour profile, which has been designed especially for use in cocktails – with Masthouse Whisky due to be ready in 2020. HRH enjoyed a tour of the premises and a tasting. Matthew Russell, co-founder of the distillery, said: “It’s a really exciting day. It’s a true honour to have her come so we’re very excited.” Princess Anne unveiled a plaque to officially open the business and was presented flowers by some of the employees’ children.
HRH The Duke of Kent visited three very different venues when in Kent on 9th November –
HRH was greeted by the Lord-Lieutenant and escorted on a tour of Folkestone’s impressive new museum at the Town Hall which The Duke of Kent officially opened on 9th November by unveiling a commemorative plaque. The town council was awarded Heritage Lottery Funding to support the ambitious scheme, which has allowed Folkestone’s history to be displayed properly for the first time in more than 50 years.
Jennifer Childs, Town Clerk, explained: “Folkestone has a huge amount of history but it was stored in various places because there wasn’t a suitable site in the town. The council was determined to bring these artefacts home and we are delighted with what has been achieved at the town hall.” Folkestone architectural consultancy Godden Allen Lawn drew up the plans for the scheme, which included extensive structural alterations, waterproofing the lower ground floor, installing a lift and creating new toilet facilities. Director Nick Lawn said: “It was a privilege to be asked to work with the talented team involved in bringing Folkestone’s heritage back to the town and giving it a new home in what is itself a fine building,”.
The Big Cat Sanctuary was most honoured to welcome HRH The Duke of Kent to the official opening of their new Jaguar Lodge.
The Duke of Kent gained an insight into the work being carried out at the sanctuary – supporting their four pillars of ethos: Welfare, Breeding, Conservation and Education as well as having a guided tour to see some of the incredible cats.
The Big Cat Sanctuary is a conservation organisation for wild cats which also offers sanctuary to retired and homeless cats and are proud to have recently launched an education programme within schools as well as being recognised as the Kent Animal Charity of the year with the Kent Charity Awards. With the knowledge and dedication of Managing Director and Big Cat Expert Giles Clark and the team, the facility thrives in its ethos to give the animals a fulfilled quality of life in captivity – stimulating them both mentally and physically.
A ceremony was held at the company’s Smarden premises, where HRH was joined by the Lord-Lieutenant who read the citation for the award. HRH presented the official certificate and commemorative crystal bowl to Managing Director, Terry Capps. The award recognises the company’s achievement of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 2017 and the occasion celebrated the momentous achievement which recognises outstanding sales performance in international territories over the last three years.
A tour of offices and factory included a practical demonstration of some of Premier Coatings protective tape systems. Part of Winn & Coales International’s world wide companies and agents, Premier Coatings Limited is one of the leaders in corrosion prevention and sealing technology.
Lord Dowding, in his role as Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, played a huge part in the RAF’s victory over the Luftwaffe. He had put in place the air defence system which made effective use of radio direction finding – the forerunner of radar – and revolutionised the country’s defences.
Prince Michael, who was escorted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle MBE, is patron of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. Also in attendance was Wing Commander Paul Farnes DFM, one of The Few. Prince Michael met members of the trust, along with staff, volunteers and some donors.
Lord Dowding died in 1970 at his home in Tunbridge Wells and his ashes were buried in the RAF Chapel,Westminster Abbey, where members of The Few have traditionally paid tribute to him every September. Lord Trenchard (Marshal of the RAF) and Lord Dowding together headed a committee to raise funds for the furnishing of the RAF chapel and for a stained glass Battle of Britain Memorial Window to be installed there in 1947.
The Countess of Wessex visited Crossways Community in Tunbridge Wells, on 19th April, to unveil a plaque commemorating her visit, and 50 years since the charity’s work in the field of mental health began. The Chief Executive of Crossways, Chris Munday, escorted the Countess around Culverdale House – where residents who require supported accommodation but not round the clock care are looked after – before crossing the road to Moxham House, the charity’s 24/7 care home. She then visited the adjacent facilities, Crossways Community Enterprises, where residents use their practical skills to sell donated items and upcycle furniture.
The Countess enjoyed interacting with staff and residents and joined the tea and cake party in the gardens, where she was presented with two cards made by the residents thanking her for the visit. Unveiling the commemorative plaque in the Crossways gardens, Her Royal Highness said: “It is a great pleasure to have visited you all today. I enjoyed hearing your stories and very much appreciated your openness. I’m so glad that you have found your way here, a place of real community where you can step forward and make progress in your individual ways.”
The Countess of Wessex went on to visit Medway Maritime Hospital and Abigail’s Footsteps, a specialist Maternity Bereavement Suite. David and Jo Ward founded Abigail’s Footsteps in memory of their little girl and were thanked by the Countess of Wessex for their valuable charity work. HRH unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit to the Suite which was praised in Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s latest Care Quality Commission report as “the gold standard in the provision of care for parents and families who experience a stillbirth.”Mr Ward said: “We are delighted and honoured that HRH the Countess of Wessex has visited Abigail’s Place.
“This is our first purpose-built bereavement suite where parents can spend precious time with their stillborn baby away from the cries of new-borns.
“It is now the template for maternity units across the country and we are already working with other trusts to help them to achieve the same high standards.”
Abigail’s Footsteps continues to campaign and fundraise nationally to help other NHS hospitals secure Maternity Bereavement Suites.
The Countess of Wessex made a visit to officially open the Benenden Community Shop where she enjoyed time with volunteers who saved the village shop, and post office, from closure. During her visit the Countess unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion and Benenden Community Shop’s official opening. Residents have joined forces with Benenden School, which bought and renovated the premises and leased it to the community, while using the living areas of the building for its staff. There is now a cafe at the shop in The Street, where both paid staff and volunteers work.
The Countess, was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle, who introduced the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr David Neve and Helen Grant MP. Martin Pexton who chairs the Benenden Community Shop Committee took the Countess on a tour of the shop, accompanied by Samantha Price, head teacher of Benenden School. Her Royal Highness, who met managers and volunteers over tea and cake, learned how the shop was saved two years ago by residents.
Mr Pexton said: “The visit of Her Royal Highness was a very special way to celebrate the success of our community shop, which has been achieved through the hard work and enthusiasm of many members of our community.”
Benenden School head teacher Samantha Price said: “We are proud to have played a role in securing this wonderful asset on behalf of the community, and it was a great honour for everyone’s hard work to be recognised by HRH Countess of Wessex today.”
The Queen visited the Royal Engineers as their Colonel-in-Chief on 13th October 2016, to mark the 300th Anniversary of the Corps foundation.
The sun shone in the crisp autumn morning as Her Majesty arrived at Brompton Barracks. The Lord-Lieutenant, Viscount De L’Isle MBE; The Chief Royal Engineer, Lt-Gen Sir Mark Mans KCB CBE; Corps Colonel, Colonel Don Bigger ADC; and Corps RSM WO1 Chris McLennan greeted Her Majesty on arrival.
A Guard of Honour was formed up on the Parade Ground commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Sean Cunniff and greeted Her Majesty with a Royal Salute. The Queen inspected the Guard of Honour and Royal Engineer Plant parked round the side of the Parade Ground, this gave an opportunity for the many past and serving Sappers and their families to see her, before she returned to the Saluting Base, where General Mans welcomed The Queen concluding his address with a quotation from Rudyard Kipling:
“There’s only one Corps which is perfect – That’s us.
An’ they call us Her Majesty’s Engineers,
Her Majesty’s Royal Engineers.
With the rank and pay of a sapper”
The Queen was graciously pleased to reply:
“The Corps of Royal Engineers has served the Nation proudly since 1716.
Often at the forefront of operations. You and your families have always risen to those challenges. I congratulate you all on reaching this point in your long and distinguished service”.
Following the parade The Queen toured the Sapper 300 exhibition and spoke to members of the Corps about the exhibits. During the tour The Queen was presented with a sundial designed and produced by the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME).
Following a group photograph with the Senior Officers, The Queen attended a reception in the Officers’ Mess, followed by an All Ranks lunch. The Queen departed across the Parade Ground led by the Corps Band and Cheered by a large number of people who had attended the event, including a number of Sapper Chelsea Pensioners from The Royal Hospital in Chelsea.
It was an impressive day which will long be remembered by all those who were present.
HRH the Duke of York visited Medway on 1st March 2016 to open the new Medway UTC. The brand new building was completed in less than one year and the first students arrived in September 2015.
The Baker-Dearing Trust set up the model of UTCs of which there are now 40 across England and Wales. Students enlist from the age of 14 years of age and are taught practical skills, as well as continuing with appropriate academic subjects up to GCSE. Medway UTC specialises in Engineering, Construction and Design, and the courses include work placements. When students leave they are “work ready” but many take further courses in their chosen career path.
The following companies and organisations are responsible for contributing to the success of Medway UTC – BAE Systems, Delphi Diesel Systems, BAM Construction, Bouygues Construction, Gainwell Futures, Kreston Reeves, Royal School of Military Engineering, University of Greenwich, Mid-Kent College, ECITB (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board), FSB (Federation of Small Businesses), and Medway Council. The academic governance is provided by Greenwich University, which also has a Medway Campus.
The Duke of York was guided round the College by the Principal Dr Karon Buck, the Head Boy Ryan Robin and Head Girl Rebecca Driver. A briefing by the Governors, Teachers and Lord Baker of Dorking took place over lunch. The Duke performed the opening ceremony by unveiling a plaque.Back to top