Centenary rugby at Raf Halton
Around 300 children gathered at RAF Halton during the first weekend of March to celebrate 100 years of flying from the Buckinghamshire RAF Station.
The children aged between 13 and 16 years old came from across the country to compete at Rugby, and experience some military skills focussed activities including the chance to fly.
Flying at the Station dates back to 1913 when on the 18th September a Henry Farman aircraft from No.3 Squadron Royal Flying Corps (the predecessor to the RAF) landed on what today is known as the Maitland Parade Square and flying has continued at Halton ever since.
Wing Commander Daren Moss, Officer Commanding Training Wing and the driving force behind the rugby tournament said: “The rugby festival marks the start of our Centenary of Flight celebration year here at RAF Halton. Not only does it allow us to showcase the fact that RAF Halton is also the RAF Home for Sport for Rugby Union but it is also a fantastic opportunity for the players and coaches to experience some of the supporting activities at RAF Halton not normally seen by the public. We are also very grateful that Saracens and London Wasps Rugby clubs have been so supportive and provided us with activities and players to engage with the kids and award the trophies.”
David Bliss (13) Team Captain for Marlow Under 14’s whose Father works at RAF Halton, said: “It was a really well organised event and there was plenty to do not just rugby. Having team building events and the shooting was great. The opportunity to go gliding was fantastic even though I didn’t get to go myself.”
It has long been acknowledged that there are many transferrable skills between sport and the military, something which was not lost on David who went on to say: “The aspects of rugby I enjoy the most are teamwork, the physical side and team spirit. It provides us with things we’ll probably need later in life like discipline, communication skills and determination. I hadn’t thought about joining the RAF, but because of what I’ve seen over the weekend I might look into it!”
Supported by London Wasps winger Christian Wade and Saracens flanker Matt Hankin, the tournament was a resounding success. In the Under 14s category Bracknell won the Cup and Marlow won the Plate. Man of the Tournament went to Tavis Hunter from Marlow. In the Under 13s tournament Witney beat Newport in the Cup Final, whilst Biggleswade narrowly edged Chipstead to win the Bowl Final. A total of 14 teams from around the UK took part in the Festival with representatives from Tring RFC, Amersham & Chiltern completing the line-up of local teams taking part.
Wing Commander Moss said: “We’ve seen some great rugby played here at Halton this weekend. Thanks must go to the Wasps and Saracens who have supported us over the weekend by providing us with activities and players to engage with the kids and award the trophies and also run development camps at RAF Halton every year. It is great to see that so many of the kids enjoyed the High Ropes and Low Ropes activities together with the laser shooting ranges, not to mention the opportunity for 40 of them to experience flying along the Chiltern Hills in a glider. Hopefully this weekend will be an experience they will long remember as something more than just another Rugby Tournament.”
The centenary celebrations at RAF Halton will culminate on the Station’s annual engagement day, to be held on the anniversary of the first flight at Halton. Key members of the community will be invited to the Station to learn of RAF Halton’s achievements and outputs. In recognition of this special day a BE2c aircraft, a type that flew into RAF Halton in 1913, is planned to fly past and also a Typhoon from 3(F) Squadron, the Squadron that first flew into Halton in 1913.