Halton church celebrates 50 years

A service was held recently at St George’s Church, RAF Halton, to celebrate and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the current church building.

The Service was followed by a light lunch in the grounds after a photo opportunity.  Senior Chaplain, the Reverend (Wing Commander) Tony Gilbert organised the event and officiated, assisted by other Station Padres’, Chaplain In Chief, The Venerable Air Vice-Marshal Raymond Pentland, who read a psalm, the Right Reverend Stephen Venner DL, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Episcopal representative to the Armed Forces, and other retired clergy.

Two organists played at the service, one is the regular organist, Mrs Margaret Evett, and also Mr Roger Meynell, who played the organ at the original church, and also played for the service when the Dedication to the new church was made on 23 May 1963 at 3 o’clock.

St George’s Church, which seats just over 450 people, was built after the previous wooden church in Old Workshops at the Station burned down.  An appeal fund was started and a committee formed to select an architect who was approved by Station authorities and the re-building started.  The Bishop of Maidstone, the Right Reverend Stanley Betts preached at the original dedication Service.

In 1997, then Padre, Richard Lee, who is now Padre to the Halton Aircraft Apprentice Association, (HAAA), was unhappy with the plain glass windows at the back of the church so suggested that the HAAA’s install stained glass windows in the church to commemorate each Apprentice Entry.  Former apprentices were immediately seized with the idea and soon windows, depicting Entry numbers, wing colours, Entry badges, Entry activities, (famous and infamous), and a host of other items were appearing in glorious coloured glass; each telling something of its creator’s time at Halton.  The HAAA’s still return for reunions and to visit St George’s.  Other stained glass windows have appeared in recent years which depict other organisations, the Polish Apprentices, Police, New Zealand Air Force, Princess Margaret’s Hospital and the ATC to name but a few.  The most recent addition was put there by by Beckett Intake from Halton’s Recruit Training Squadron.

Nowadays St George’s Church is well loved by the community for Services. The Mothers’ Union Group use the Hall and the Military Wives Choir Halton meet to rehearse there, the HAAA’s hold their committee meetings and various concerts and functions take place.

It has been earmarked to be used for BBC1’s Songs of Praise for the Battle of Britain service this year but that has yet to be confirmed.