Duchess of Cornwall Presents Replacement Queen’s Colour to RAF Halton
On a beautiful sunny day in May, Royal Air Force Halton was honoured to receive a visit from Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, who presented the new replacement Queen’s Colour to the Station.
The retiring Colour, presented by HRH The Queen in 1997, now goes to be ‘rested’ in St Michael & All Angels Church in Halton village.
Station Commander, Group Captain James Brayshaw, met Her Royal Highness, who is also the Honorary Air Commodore for RAF Halton, at Halton House before leaving for the Henderson Parade Square where she acted as Reviewing Officer presenting the new replacement Colour.
The Ceremony of Consecration took place at the Graduation Parade of No 591 Douglas Intake, supported by Station personnel. After the old Colour was marched off the new ‘replacement’ Colour was unfurled in a Drumhead Ceremony and consecrated by the Chaplain in Chief. It was borne by Deputy Officer Commanding Recruit Training Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Scott Ripley-Jones, who said: “Today is a day I will remember for the rest of my life with pride. To be chosen to bear the new Queen’s Colour is a personal honour for me.” Escorts for the replacement Colour were Colour Warrant Officer, Ian Giles, and Colour Escorts Sergeant Barnett and Sergeant Brister.
Guests at the parade included members of the Colour Party from 1997 and other County dignitaries, the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, The Mayor of Aylesbury, the present Lord Trenchard, and the Chairman of the Halton Apprentice Association. Trophy and award winners were presented their prizes by the Duchess.
After the Parade she went to the James McCudden Flight Heritage Centre to meet with excited local school children taking part in a Cool Aeronautics event and was invited by the children to fly paper aeroplanes they had made. Her final engagement was at a reception at Halton House with VIP guests, trophy and award winners and their families before taking her leave.
The Queen’s Colour was awarded to the Station for the first time in July 1952, though that moved to RAF Cosford when the No 1 School of Technical Training moved there in 1993. Twenty years ago, the Queen approved a brand new Colour for RAF Halton which has been used at every major official Station event since.
In her address, the Duchess first paid tribute to the people of Manchester affected in the recent atrocity, before saying how honoured she was to be here today and paid tribute to the excellence and professionalism of the parade, calling it a testament to the Station. She recalled Her Majesty the Queen’s visit to the Station in 1997 to present the Colour which is now to be ‘rested’.
The Duchess then addressed the families praising them for their “unstinting support along with the support of the training staff who trained the graduating recruits to the highest standard seen today.” She finished by congratulating all on the Parade saying they should rightly be proud of their achievements and wished them all the very best of British luck.
The Station Commander replied, saying: “The presentation of a new Royal Air Force Halton Queen’s Colour is an historic and inspiring occasion. Originally presented on the 31 Oct 97, by Her Majesty the Queen, our Colour retains its unique status within the 9 Colours currently held by the Royal Air Force as the first and only one presented to a Station in its own right, marking our honoured position in the history of the service.
As we now look to the future, the new Sovereign’s Colour will be a great inspiration to others as a symbol of what this Station represents and has become.
It will remind the thousands of young men and women who enter our gates each year that the safeguarding of the splendid traditions of the Royal Air Force now lies in their hands. We are grateful your Royal Highness for the honour bestowed upon us today, a day, which I am sure will be remembered for a long time to come.” RAF Halton is the gateway to the Royal Air Force and is the centre for initial recruit training for all airmen and airwomen joining the Air Force both Regular and Reserve. As well as presenting the Station with its new Colour, the Duchess acted as the Reviewing Officer for the 82 Airmen and Airwomen from Douglas Intake who were graduating following an intense 10 week long course.
Families and friends of the recruits packed the grandstands which overlook the Henderson Parade Square and burst into applause when a Tornado GR4 aircraft performed a special flypast, wings swept back and afterburners aglow. The ceremony and
parade was accompanied by music from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment under the direction of Flight Lieutenant I’Anson.
The parade comprised of 2 Squadrons of RAF personnel. Douglas Intake formed the Escort Squadron, number 1 and 2 Flights of the Parade. The Support Squadron was made up 48 airmen and women of Airmen’s Development Flight forming numbers 3 and 4 Flights in conjunction with 48 permanent RAF personnel drawn from across the Station numbered 5 and
On completion of the fly past, her Royal Highness was invited forward to inspect the Escort Squadron, after which the retiring Queen’s Colour was marched past and off the Parade Square and the presentation and consecration of the new Queen’s Colour commenced when Her Royal Highness presented it to the Colour Bearer. The Duchess then presented a number of awards to the top recruits, taking time to chat with each in turn.
The awards presented were to:
AC Vanessa Dempsey – The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Trophy.
AC Millership – The Station Commander’s Cup.
AC Lyndsay Kidd – The Halton Aircraft Apprentice Trophy.
AC Morrison – The Halton Apprentice Shield and the Mayor of Aylesbury Trophy.
LAC Jack Pound – The Dusty
Miller Memorial Trophy.
AC Sam Brookes – The Lord Lieutenant Of
AC Benjamin Harris – The Rothschild Trophy.
Queen’s Colours are awarded by the Sovereign in recognition of Service achievement and they are presented by the Sovereign or a person nominated to act on the Sovereign’s behalf. Nine of them have been awarded to formations and establishments of the Royal Air Force and one to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. A Colour measures 3 ft 9 in square and is affixed to a pike 8 ft 2 in in length surmounted by a Royal Crown
On 27 Dec 47, King George VI signified approval to the award of Colours to the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, the Royal Air Force College Cranwell and No 1 School of Technical Training. Of the 7 current Colours, the first Colour was presented by King George VI to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell on 6 Jul 48. The second was presented by The Queen (then HRH Princess Elizabeth), acting on behalf of King George VI, to the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom on 26 May 51. The third Colour was presented by The Queen to No 1 School of Technical Training on 25 Jul 52.
Since then, The Queen has presented Colours to: the Royal Air Force Regiment on 17 Mar 53; the Central Flying School on 26 Jun 69; the Royal Auxiliary Air Force on 12 Jun 89; and Royal Air Force Halton on 31 Oct 97. Queen’s Colours are normally replaced every 15 years.