Council 24 April 18 – Freedom of the District – RAF 100 anniversary celebrations

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The ‘red carpet’ was rolled out for the Royal Air Force when the ‘Freedom of Epping Forest District’ was conferred on 56 Squadron. Wing Commander Matt Fleckney, Officer Commanding 56 Squadron, witnessed the sealing of the ‘Freedom’ with Council Chairman, Councillor David Stallan at a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF on 1 April 1918.

RAF, ATC, North Weald Operations and Airfield Historian Arthur Moreton

(Click on an image to start the slideshow)

The meeting unanimously passed the motion proposed by Councillor Brian Rolfe and seconded by Councillor Anne Grigg.

“That, in the year of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, this Council reaffirms its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant and the bonds of friendship between our Armed Forces and the people of Epping Forest District through the conferral of the Freedom of the District on 56 Squadron – the Royal Air Force”.

The District and the RAF

Epping Forest District has a long and profound relationship with the RAF. The associations stretch back as early as 1916, when the fledgling Royal Flying Corps first arrived at North Weald.

By the end of World War II, the district had three airfields at North Weald, Stapleford Abbotts and Willingale. Blake Hall had become a centre of RAF operations while RAF Chigwell – known as the ‘Balloon Site’ for its barrage balloons also became an intelligence centre. In Nazeing a dummy airfield was created in to draw enemy bombers away from their real targets.

Norwegian connections

North Weald also became an important focus of Norwegian national resistance. Escaping the invasion of their homeland, Norwegian pilots flying Spitfires under the colours of the RAF became some of the most successful squadrons of WWII.

Squadron 56

However, 56 Squadron has by far the longest relationship with the District. Based at North Weald from 1927 until 1941, 56 Squadron’s honors include Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. The 56 Squadron Standard is displayed in St Andrew’s Church, North Weald.

Personal accounts and tributes

Before opening the debate to Councillors, Councillor Stallan broke with convention by asking the Council’s Director of Communities, Alan Hall to read a personal statement. Alan Hall, spoke with pride of his father, Sergeant Bill Hall, an instrument maker who worked on the Hurricanes of 56 Squadron at North Weald. In later years, Bill Hall left no doubt of his affection for the ‘Fighting 56’ frequently reminding his family how it was his job to turn on the light at the top of St Andrew’s Church tower to guide the pilots safely back the base after dark.

Councillors spoke with emotion. An RAF veteran in his own right, Councillor Rolfe led the calls for the ‘Freedom’ to be conferred. Councillor Stephen Murray spoke of the military traditions of his own family and the insight he had received through his brother’s RAF service.

Councillor Chris Pond described the history of a previous owner of his house in Loughton – a young RAF officer shot down and killed in defence of his country. Councillor Anne Grigg joined Councillor Murray is speaking of the proud record of 56 Squadron and it’s sad distinction of being the first RAF squadron to lose a pilot – killed in action – in World War II.

Councillor Jon Whitehouse spoke of joining the Chairman only a few days previously to rededicate a war memorial, counting the cost of war and what we ask members of the armed services to do.

Perhaps the most moving contribution from Councillor Syd Stavrou described the loss of the father she never knew – part of a Lancaster crew, shot down and killed in Germany months before she was born.

Freedom accepted

Wing Commander Matt Fleckney was joined in the Council Chamber by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex Michael Chapman and officers of 56 Squadron. He took great pleasure in accepting the Freedom of the District. Describing North Weald as the ‘Spiritual Home’ of 56 Squadron, the Wing Commander also reflecting on the RAF’s wider connections across the district, the ‘finest hour’ in the sky above, the jet age and some of the brave people who did not return.

56 Squadron will exercise the Freedom of the District with a parade from North Weald Village Hall to the Airfield Gate Guardian on Sunday 10 June.

Other business

In keeping with protocol, the agreement to confer the Freedom of the District concluded the business of the extraordinary meeting of Full Council. Following a short break, the second meeting of the evening convened at 8pm with a minutes silence to remember former councillors Ron Braybrook and Peter Riley, plus Peter Adams, an independent member of the Standards Committee since December 2012.

Portfolio Holders answered questions on a range of subjects including:

  • Lorry parking in Waltham Abbey
  • Food banks
  • Progress towards the redevelopment of the St John’s Road area of Epping
  • The Local Plan
  • Pollution caused by stationary cars with idling engines
  • Recycling (Epping Forest District Council’s domestic recycling is the 22 highest of all 350 English councils)
  • Additional council funded police officers due to begin work in June
  • The completion of a £1.1million refurbishment of Epping Sports Centre and plans to provide even better sports facilities for residents in the future
  • Epping Forest Shopping Park, the Broadway and its new Landmark Building
  • Sport and Leisure Centre water quality at Loughton and Ongar
  • Council House building programme
  • Electoral Review
  • The Restore charity
  • Waltham Abbey’s new leisure centre due for completion in November
  • Reduced price home composting bins
  • Voluntary Action Epping Forest

Free compost giveaway

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We’re giving away free compost to residents to say thank you for recycling your food and garden waste.

This blooming good giveaway is on Tuesday 8 May at North Weald Airfield from 10am to 2pm. Residents must bring their own bags and a spade before helping themselves to up to 3 bags of compost while stocks last.

Compost giveaway 8 May North Weald Airfield

  • When – Tuesday 8 May 2018 10am to 2pm
  • Where – North Weald Airfield, Merlin Way, North Weald CM16 6AA (the entrance is via the A414 on Merlin Way, follow the brown tourist signs for North Weald Market)
  • Why – Free compost! Grab up to 3 bags of compost while stocks last, remember to bring your own bags and a spade

The compost was made from last years green-lidded food & garden waste wheelie bin collections. It is part of a series of events across Essex celebrating International Compost Awareness Week (6-12 May 2018).

Composting advice

Whether you’re a keen gardener or just getting started, come along and get free compost & composting advice. Expert composters will offer advice on how to make an excellent natural soil improver which can be used to dress lawns, pot up plants, revitalise flowerbeds, or mulched as a plant feed for vegetable patches.

Composting is an excellent way to help your garden grow. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly ways to dispose of waste.

Recycle for Essex

RAF Freedom of District motion to be put to Council

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On the 100th anniversary of the formation of the RAF in April 1918, a motion to confer the Freedom of Epping Forest District on 56 Squadron is to be put to a special meeting of Epping Forest District Council at 7pm on Tuesday 24 April.

56 Squadron Standard at North Weald Gate Guardian

56 Squadron

56 Squadron operated from North Weald Airfield between 1927 and the Battle of Britain in 1941. They are the longest of any squadron to be based at the airfield which is now owned by Epping Forest District Council (EFDC). The motion to confer the Freedom of the whole district is a reflection of the wider local role played by the RAF.

This includes other airfields and facilities at

  • Ongar
  • Willingale
  • Stapleford Abbots
  • Chigwell
  • Nazeing

Representatives from the RAF will attend the meeting where a council majority of at least two thirds will be required to confer the honour.

100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force

National celebrations are being held during 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force. North Weald Airfield opened 2 years before the founding of the Royal Air Force. The first operational flight of the Royal Flying Corps at North Weald took place in June 1916.

56 Squadron is one of the most distinguished units of the RAF. By the outbreak of war in 1939, it was equipped with the new Hawker Hurricane fighters with which North Weald was to become most closely associated. The Hurricanes of 56 Squadron covered the retreat from Dunkirk and were among the first committed to what became known as the Battle of Britain. When 56 Squadron finally transferred to RAF Duxford via Martlesham Heath in June 1941 it had been based in North Weald for 14 years.

Parade and community music event

Should the motion to grant the Freedom of the District to 56 Squadron be passed by Full Council, a local commemorative celebration at North Weald is being planned for Sunday 10 June. A parade and community music event are being organised with 56 Squadron and local organisations.

The special meeting on 24 April, starts at 7pm and is open to the public. You can watch the webcast live here.

More information about this event will be available nearer the time.

EFDC Coat of Arms and RAF Squadron 56 logo EFDC Coat of Arms and RAF Squadron 56 logo

New Police airbase to be built at North Weald

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Planning permission for the National Police Air Service (NPAS) purpose built airbase at North Weald Airfield was granted by district councillors at Plans East meeting on Wednesday 6 December.

Police Helicopter

Keeping local communities safe

The new NPAS airbase will replace an existing facility at Lippitts Hill in High Beach and form part of their national network of 15 bases providing air support to the 46 police forces of England and Wales.

2 police helicopters and a police aeroplane will regularly fly out of the new airbase, operating 24/7 primarily serving London and the South East, with support from additional airbases at Boreham Airfield near Chelmsford, Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey and RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.

Crews in these aircraft regularly support police colleagues on the ground to find missing people and search for suspects. They provide an aerial view supporting local police at major events and help other police forces bring ‘crimes in action’ to an end, keeping local communities safe.

A long standing history of protecting our community

Assets and Economic Development Portfolio Holder Councillor Anne Grigg said: “North Weald Airfield has a long standing history of protecting our community since opening as an airfield in the 1st World War. It became a vital Battle of Britain airfield in the 2nd World War, providing a home to RAF spitfires and hurricanes.”

“In later years the airfield expanded in to the jet age of the 1950’s, and in recent times providing a base to vital services and welcoming aircraft from all over the world.”

Important and valuable services

Councillor Grigg continued: “The addition of the National Police Air Service is an exciting opportunity which will allow the vital service to carry out their much needed work, ensuring residents safety, which is our top priority.”

“They will be joining a range of aviation tenants at the airfield including The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance who have been operating successfully for several years.”

“I am proud of the contribution our airfield has made over the years and as it continues to grow, we welcome these important and valuable services.”

Paul Marrion, South East Assistant Operations Director for the National Police Air, said: “We are delighted to be able to build our new bespoke airbase at North Weald Airfield. This decision will ensure that we can continue to support police forces across London and the South East in their efforts to protect people and property and to keep communities safe.”

“Police air support is a vital tool available to police forces. Flying at average speeds of 138mph, searching for missing people or suspects by air is 20 times faster than other options and saves local police valuable time when it matters.”

More information

Chairman celebrates district’s attractions

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Chairman of Council Councillor Dave Stallan celebrated the district’s tourist attractions at North Weald Airfield and on the Epping Ongar railway recently.

Chairman's Civic lunch on the Epping Ongar railway 2017

A host of distinguished guests from authorities across Essex and the newly appoint Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst enjoyed a trip on a vintage bus to North Weald Station.

From there, guests were taken on a Diesel Multi Unit (DMU) train to Coopersale. On return to North Weald they changed trains and enjoyed a trip on a magnificent steam engine the Metropolitan E Class No. 1, which was built around 1901.

Rodger Green a long-serving volunteer at the railway gave a fascinating tour and talk on the history of Ongar Station and the Epping Ongar Railway. Everyone then returned to North Weald Station and onwards again on the bus to North Weald Airfield.

Showcasing what the district has to offer

The Chairman of Council, Councillor Stallan who was given the opportunity to ride the steam engine said: “As a North Weald resident, I often hear the trains pass along the track, whilst on the train I was amazed at the heat and the amount of work it takes to keep the coal fire fed to keep the steam at the correct pressure.”

“From the train I was able to enjoy a glorious view of the surrounding countryside and the beautiful Autumnal colours of the forest along the line.”

Councillor Stallan also added “This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase all that the district has to offer to residents and visitors alike.”

I am most grateful to the Epping Ongar Railway for hosting us on the day. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves but more importantly, many more people are now aware of this attraction and will spread the word about our marvellous district and all it has to offer.”

Everyone welcome

Managing Director of the Epping Ongar Railway, who was also the bus driver for the day, Roger Wright said: “We are all very proud of the Epping Ongar Railway and hope that we will be welcoming many more visitors soon.”

£500 raised for Chairman’s charities

On the day the Chairman raised a total of £500 for his charities and local causes

  • The Norway House Garden Project
  • Safer Places
  • Epping & Ongar Air Cadets
  • Diabetes UK

Epping Ongar Railway

Enjoy the Epping Ongar railway for yourself. More information can be found at:

Remember, remember, stay safe on 5 November

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We want you to stay safe during this year’s bonfire night celebrations on 5 November. Bonfire night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night and firework night.

The Squadron fireworks and bonfire party 2016

Stay safe this bonfire night

The safest way to enjoy bonfire night is always at an organised event. The fireworks are bigger, better and always safer.

Come and join us at North Weald Airfield on 3 November 2017, for a spectacular evening of fireworks and fun! Tickets are available on the night.

Firework safety

If you do wish to enjoy the festivities at home or at friends make sure you understand firework safety.

Follow these top tips from the Essex Fire and Rescue service.

  • Only buy fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS7114
  • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and always follow the instructions carefully when using them
  • Light them at arm’s length using a taper and stand well back
  • Never go back to them once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
  • Never throw fireworks and never put them in your pocket
  • Respect your neighbours, don’t let off fireworks late at night and remember there are laws to follow
  • Take care with sparklers ,never give them to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put sparklers in a bucket of water after use
  • Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening

Know the laws on fireworks and don’t set any off after 11pm. On 5 November, displays can continue until 12am and on certain occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, fireworks can be set off until 1am.

Bonfire safety

If you are planning to have a bonfire make sure to:

  • Build your bonfire clear of buildings, garden sheds, fences and hedges
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire
  • Never burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture or batteries
  • Don’t leave bonfires unattended
  • An adult should supervise it until it has burnt out
  • If it has to be left, damp it down with plenty of water
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of fire

Stay safe and look out for other

“Bonfire night is always a busy time for our emergency services so wherever you are, remember to stay safe and look out for others” said Safer, greener and transport portfolio holder Councillor Sam Kane.

“Organised events are always the safest way to enjoy fireworks and North Weald Airfield is holding another fantastic event on Friday 3 November. There are many other organised events across the district, but if you do choose to have your celebrations at home, please follow the safety tips so that you and your family remember the night for all the right reasons.”

Fireworks party at North Weald Airfield

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Come and join us at North Weald Airfield on 3 November 2017, for a spectacular evening of fireworks and fun! Tickets are on sale, so book now to avoid disappointment!

North Weals Airfield fireworks and bonfire party

Click on an image below to begin slideshow of last year’s fireworks event.

Schedule of events

  • 5.00 pm – Gates & Ferris wheel open
  • 5.30 pm – Kids disco starts, with prizes for the best dancers
  • 7.00 pm – Bonfire is lit
  • 7.15 pm – Little Mix tribute band (2 lucky children get to meet the band, keep your ticket number handy)
  • 8.15 pm – Hot air balloons glow to music
  • 8.30 pm – Fireworks display begins
  • 9.15 pm – 80’s tribute band begins
  • 10.30 pm – Licensed bar closes
  • 10.45pm – Last bus leaves
  • 11.00pm – Airfield closes

Every ride on the Ferris wheel you take will see 50% of the price donated to The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust, helping to fund their life saving missions!

Tickets available now!

Tickets are available to buy now, so don’t delay and avoid disappointment!

  • Buy tickets online
  • Tickets are also available from The Squadron Café at North Weald Airfield, The News Shop in North Weald and are being sold at Saturday market at North Weald Airfield

Ticket prices

  • £5 per adult
  • £3 per child (2 – 11 years old)

A limited number of tickets will be available on the night and will cost

  • £7 per adult
  • £5 per child (2-11 years old)

Getting to and from the event

By bus

  • Special bus services to the airfield from Waltham Abbey, Harlow and Ongar will be available
  • Return busses to Waltham Abbey, Harlow and Ongar will leave from the control tower from 9:45pm
  • A free bus will pick up passengers from Kings Head bus stop, North Weald

On foot

  • North Weald Airfield (map)
  • A free bus will pick up passengers from Kings Head bus stop, North Weald

By car

Further information

North Weald Airfield fireworks & bonfire party

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Come and join us at North Weald Airfield on 3 November 2017, for a spectacular evening of fireworks and fun! Tickets are now on sale, so book now to avoid disappointment!

North Weals Airfield fireworks and bonfire party

Click on an image below to begin slideshow of last year’s fireworks event.

Schedule of events

  • 5.00 pm – Gates & Ferris wheel open
  • 5.30 pm – Kids disco starts, with prizes for the best dancers
  • 7.00 pm – Bonfire is lit
  • 7.15 pm – Little Mix tribute band (2 lucky children get to meet the band, keep your ticket number handy)
  • 8.15 pm – Hot air balloons glow to music
  • 8.30 pm – Fireworks display begins
  • 9.15 pm – 80’s tribute band begins
  • 10.30 pm – Licensed bar closes
  • 10.45pm – Last bus leaves
  • 11.00pm – Airfield closes

Every ride on the Ferris wheel you take will see 50% of the price donated to The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust, helping to fund their life saving missions!

Tickets available now!

Tickets are available to buy now, so don’t delay and avoid disappointment!

  • Buy tickets online
  • Tickets are also available from The Squadron Café at North Weald Airfield, The News Shop in North Weald and are being sold at Saturday market at North Weald Airfield

Ticket prices

  • £5 per adult
  • £3 per child (2 – 11 years old)

A limited number of tickets will be available on the night and will cost

  • £7 per adult
  • £5 per child (2-11 years old)

Getting to and from the event

By bus

  • Special bus services to the airfield from Waltham Abbey, Harlow and Ongar will be available
  • Return busses to Waltham Abbey, Harlow and Ongar will leave from the control tower from 9:45pm
  • A free bus will pick up passengers from Kings Head bus stop, North Weald

On foot

  • North Weald Airfield (map)
  • A free bus will pick up passengers from Kings Head bus stop, North Weald

By car

Further information

Cabinet 7 September 2017

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Councillors, Democracy, Doing business with the council, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Media, Meetings, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Our performance, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Uncategorized, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

A new Police helicopter base, anti- social behaviour in Waltham abbey and the Oakwood hill depot were among items discussed at Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet meeting Thursday 7 September 2017.

North Weald set to become new Police helicopter base

North Weald Airfield is set to become a new base for the National Police Air Service. Three helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft will be based at the council-owned airfield.

Police Helicopter

Police Helicopter

Asset Management Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg put forward recommendations for a 25 year lease with the helicopter service. The proposals would include a new hanger and buildings to support a range of police helicopter activities.

The Police will be joining a range of other aviation tenants including the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance which has operated very successfully from North Weald for several years. Receiving reassurances about flight lines and noise levels from members of the National Police Air Service at the meeting, councillors welcomed the report and the aspiration for continued development of aviation at North Weald.

Hillhouse Statement

Councillor Sam Kane was welcomed to his first Cabinet meeting as Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder by Council Leader Chris Whitbread. Councillor Kane has stepped into the role previous held by Councillor Gary Waller who recently passed away.

Councillor Kane’s first act was to deliver a strong statement regarding anti-social behaviour in Waltham Abbey.

Councillor Sam Kane’s Statement:

“Fellow Councillors will know that Epping Forest District Council is working in partnership with local residents and other organisations to improve the quality of life for everyone in and around Hillhouse on the Ninefields housing estate in Waltham Abbey.

Work has started in just the last few weeks on a brand new leisure centre. Health, housing and social facilities are coming together in a major multi-million pound investment.

The vast majority of residents in this area are the most decent and law-abiding citizens you could ever wish to meet. We also know there is an element of anti-social behaviour, a group of people who seem intent on making the lives of everyone else miserable. We are working with all our partners including Essex Police to tackle this behaviour but events in the last day or so have taken a new and very ugly twist.

Fishing line has been tied at knee height between posts and fences with the deliberate intention of tripping and hurting people. This mindless and stupid act has resulted in injury to a small child. Pictures of the serious cuts to his face have been circulated on social media.

I know this will come as a shock to you and I know every councillor would wish to send our sympathy to this innocent young child and his family.

Local residents and all right-minded people will be incensed by this latest incident. Through this meeting I want to let our residents know that we stand with them. The anti-social behaviour of the last few weeks must now stop.

A temporary dispersal order has been put in place from tonight. You will appreciate that many other things are going on behind the scenes that I cannot discuss in public.

Council staff have been working incredibly hard. Plans of action drawn up with Essex Police even before this latest event are being put into effect now. We believe we know who the perpetrators are. It saddens me to say that they are very young. We have been working with our local schools and have passed the identities of the perpetrators to Essex Police.

Enough is enough. Anti-social behaviour is a blight on our communities which must end. As the action plan goes into effect, I expect to see the situation improve significantly. I also know that you can never eliminate all crime, but with the support of my council colleagues I want to send out a clear message. We stand with all the decent and law-abiding residents of Waltham Abbey.

We will not let the few ruin the lives of the many.”

Oakwood Hill

New council office and depot facilities accommodating Grounds Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance and the MoT centre opened recently at Oakwood Hill in Loughton. Latest proposals for the transfer of the Council’s Housing Repairs service to Oakwood Hill were scrutinised at Cabinet.

Proposals for additional staff car parking received particular attention. A petition opposing the use of green space opposite the new facility was delivered by Councillor Chris Roberts.

Councillors agreed the recommendations in the Cabinet report with the proviso that alternatives to the proposals of additional parking would also be investigated. Full public consultation would also take place as part of any planning application process if the proposals for parking set out in the report went forward.

Customer Services

Council Leader Chris Whitbread updated fellow councillors on a range of projects geared towards improving customer service including a new public customer service reception, plans for which are due to come before Cabinet by the end of the year.

Best of British community spirit

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Epping, Health, Loughton, Media, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The local community came together for an exciting day full of fun and smiles at the Best of British Community Day at North Weald Airfield on Sunday 16 July 2017.

Click on an image below to begin the slideshow

Visitors were entertained in the central arena with music, dance, gymnastic displays, bike stunt shows and Morris dancers. A big swing carousel was the centrepiece for the event at the council owned airfield.

Planes on display included Jet Provosts, Hawker Hunter, Sea Fury, Westland Scout and Wasp helicopters lined the arena. People were also able to see classic cars, military vehicles and a mini zoo. Children were entertained all day by an exciting adventure land.

Real community spirit

Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor David Stallan said: ”The weather may have been dull, but the atmosphere certainly wasn’t! What can I say, I’ve had such an amazing day at the Best of British North Weald Airfield Community Day! I met so many different people; community groups, charities and services that work hard for the district and most importantly I’ve really enjoyed meeting the residents that came, they gave the event real community spirit!

Thank you

He continued: ”Everyone I spoke to said what a wonderful time they were having, from the children in adventure land, the stall holders, the performers and those watching, those up above taking an aerial tour in helicopters, to those on the ground speaking to the re-enactors! A magnificent day out. Thank you to everyone that came and well done to everyone involved who made the event a success.”