The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 17 September 2010

South Ayrshire Council Provost hosts Battle of Britain commemorative dinner

South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan hosted an evening dinner for the Royal Air Force, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Highlights of the evening included a special fly past over County Hall.


Guests at the specially themed celebratory dinner included John Duncan QPM, Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Air Commodore Malcolm Crayford and Wing Commander JC Dickson.

Representatives from 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, HMS Gannet, 6 Scots the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the local Air Training Corps Squadron, the Royal Air Force Association and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund were also at the evening commemoration, along with uniformed and civilian colleagues from Royal Air Force Prestwick.

Immediately before the dinner, a ceremonial flag on the mast by the corner of Pavilion Road and the Esplanade was lowered by Corporal Paul Mowat and Senior Aircraftman Ian McNaulty, which was then followed by the fly past.

Returning to County Hall, guests were played in by a string quartet from Marr College in Troon.

Provost Sloan said: “The Battle of Britain takes its name from a speech given in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940, after Germany occupied France.

“He said: ‘The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.’

“It was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces and was also the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign of the war. The German aim was simple – to gain air superiority over Britain and many cities up and down the UK bore the brunt of months of bombing and terror.

“Ultimately, the German campaign failed, but the losses sustained by the RAF were horrendous, prompting Churchill to remark: ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.’”

Provost Sloan then introduced the top table and the President of the Mess Committee was asked to explain military etiquette and customs for the evening.

He then introduced the evening’s first speaker, Flying Officer Suzanne Mitchell, who gave a brief introduction to the Battle of Britain.

Officer Mitchell was followed by Mr Joe Parker, who gave a personal account of the battle from his memoirs and Senior Aircraftman Abbie Morter then read a poem honouring those who fell.

After the loyal toast, the President of the Mess Committee introduced Provost Winifred Sloan who spoke of her own role as the Council’s Veterans’ Champion.

Provost Sloan said: “The welfare of local men and women who have served our country is a subject very close to my heart. Part of my role involves assessing the impact that Council decisions and policies might have on veterans, or their families.

“Today our armed forces personnel play an active and important role in defending us and our rights, as well as protecting others, around the globe. Brave men and women of all ages are still sacrificing their health and often their lives for their country.

Provost Sloan received a hearty round of applause when she said: “The need to look after veterans will continue and I will continue to champion their cause.”

Provost Sloan then continued: “I said earlier this evening that the RAF personnel based at the Scottish Air Traffic control Centre in Prestwick are very much members of our community and I sincerely meant it.

“South Ayrshire has proud and strong ties with the RAF and I was particularly pleased in 2009 when we granted you the Freedom of South Ayrshire.

“It was a way of us paying tribute to and honouring all Royal Air Force personnel past and present and marks the fact that the Royal Air Force have been based at Prestwick for over 70 years.

“Despite demanding jobs you all still find time to throw yourselves in your spare time to help the local community through voluntary, youth and charitable work and I am humbled and full of admiration for the work that you do.

“On behalf of the people of South Ayrshire I thank you.”

Air Commodore Crayford then spoke of the Battle of Britain and related it to the modern day RAF, before the evening was brought to a close by Wing Commander Dickson with the vote of thanks and the presentation of a magnificent framed print of a Spitfire aircraft to Provost Sloan.

[A set of downloadable full-size images is available on Flickr. Click on any thumbnail to access larger versions. CLICK HERE.}

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