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Queen meets personnel when she visits RAF Marham to officially open Lightning Operations Centre

The Queen and station commander Group Capt Ian Townsend. Picture: SGT Nick Howe

The Queen and station commander Group Capt Ian Townsend. Picture: SGT Nick Howe

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The Queen was welcomed by flag waving children when she visited RAF Marham today.

The Queen was invited to officially open the Lightning Operations Centre with the unveilling of a plaque that had been commissioned by Lockheed Martin. 

Picture:SGT Nick HoweThe Queen was invited to officially open the Lightning Operations Centre with the unveilling of a plaque that had been commissioned by Lockheed Martin. Picture:SGT Nick Howe

Pupils from the Cherry Tree Academy and Rainbow Daycare Centre lined the roads up to the camp gates and waved flags and cheered as her car passed by them.

The Queen began her visit at the new Lightning Operations Centre where she met station personnel.

It is the first building to have been completed as part the new infrastructure to support the F35B Lightning aircraft arriving this summer.

She was introduced to representatives from the Lightning Delivery Team responsible for the delivery of the building along with contractors Lockheed Martin and BAe Systems. Also present were local firm Balfour Beatty who built it.

The Queen presents the Firmin Sword to station commander Group Capt Ian Townsend. Picture: SGT Nick HoweThe Queen presents the Firmin Sword to station commander Group Capt Ian Townsend. Picture: SGT Nick Howe

The Queen was invited to officially open the Lightning Operations Centre with the unveiling of a plaque.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The Royal opening of this operations hub for the F-35 brings us another step closer to these pioneering jets flying from their UK home later this year, and their take-off from the magnificent aircraft carrier which proudly bears Her Majesty’s name.”

The Queen was then taken to the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess where she met with senior Non-Commissioned Officers and junior ranks and spoke to them about their roles before moving off to the Officers Mess for lunch.

After lunch, the Queen was invited to present the Firmin Sword of Peace to station commander Group Capt Ian Townsend who accepted it on behalf of the station.

Children from the local Cherry Tree Academy presented the Queen with a posy. Picture: RAF MarhamChildren from the local Cherry Tree Academy presented the Queen with a posy. Picture: RAF Marham

The sword is awarded to the establishment that is judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities. RAF Marham received the award in recognition of the many activities it conducted throughout 2016, its centenary year and its support to the local community whilst continuing with operations in Syria and Iraq.

As The Queen left the Officers Mess at the end of her visit, she was presented with a posy of flowers.

Group Capt Townsend said: “It was wonderful to welcome Her Majesty to RAF Marham today and we are honoured that this was her first Royal Air Force engagement in the RAF’s centenary year.”

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