Large crowds lined the streets of Melton yesterday (Sunday) for the annual Battle of Britain parade, which this year also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
Former and current serving RAF personnel were invited to take part this year as the town paid tribute to those who have worn the colours of the RAF over the past century.
This year’s parade was longer than usual - following the route of the annual one on Remembrance Sunday - to mark the significance of the occasion.
Taking part were 10 serving members of the RAF police, 18 RAF veterans and RAFA (Royal Air Force Association) members, 60 representatives of the Air Training Cadets (ATC), including the 1279 Melton, 2248 Rutland and 2502 Hamilton Squadrons, plus members of the St John Ambulance.
There were also representatives from the town branch of the Royal British Legion, Melton Town Estate and Leicestershire Police.
The Melton Toy Soldiers Marching Band led the parade off from Chapel Street at 10am, marching along Kings Street and Sage Cross Street before turning into Sherrard Street.
The party then made its way along Leicester Street, turned left into Church Street and then entered St Mary’s Church for a special service of dedication, led by Rev Kevin Ashby, for the Battle of Britain and the RAF100 Anniversary.
Standards and wreaths were presented at the altar.
After the service, at approximately 11.30am, the parade reformed in Burton Street and marched off into the Market Place, where the salute was taken by Air
Commodore Andrew Griffin (Retd).
Also in the reviewing party were the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire Col Richard Hurwood, The High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Diana Thompson, The Mayor of Melton, Councillor Pru Chandler, Senior Town Warden, John Southerington, and Melton RAFA branch president.
The parade party then continued down Leicester Street and into the Memorial Gardens where wreaths were laid from all the organisations taking part.
This was led by RAFAC Padre, John Hewer, with Last Post and reveille being sounded before partipants wer dismissed.
After the parade, the majority of the dignitaries and personnel taking part went back to the RAFA branch headquarters, on Asfordby Road, where a buffet was provided.
Melton RAFA branch secretary, Brenda Cox, said: “It looked like a very good turn out of supporters lining the street, which was very pleasing in our centenary year.”
Organisers of the parade have thanked the following for their help with the event: Richard Barnes’ Funeral Directors, for printing copies of the commemorative service programme in the church, Rev Ashby and his team at St Mary’s, Melton Mowbray Rotary Club, Richard Smith Traffic Management, Leicestershire and Rutland 4 x 4, Response, Melton Times/Ragdale Hall ‘Make it Happen’, for a grant to cover traffic management costs, Melton Mowbray Town Estate, Melton Borough Council, Leicestershire County Council and OC 1279 RAF Air Cadet Squadron.
Paul Davies, chairman of the Melton branch of RAFA, said: “The assistance of all the organisations who helped us was invaluable in ensuring the event went ahead and I would like to thank them all, as well as giving my thanks to all who participated on the day.”
Volunteers took collections during the parade for the Wings Appeal, which provides welfare facilities to serving and ex-serving RAF personnel and their families.