March 6 2015 Latest news:
Thursday, July 17, 2014
The aluminium-alloy frames of Jaguar jets used to sparkle on the runway at former RAF Coltishall.
But the most recent arrivals to land on the deserted strip have been thousands of copper-plated steel 2p coins, which glinted on the surface under a scorching sun this week.
The coins were part of a charity challenge organised by the Aylsham branch of the Royal British Legion’s Women’s Section (RBLWS). They aimed to collect enough 2ps to cover a mile of runway.
That meant gathering 63,360 coins - which would have raised £1,267.20 for the veterans’ charity causes.
But in fact the branch managed to collect 87,500 2ps, raising an impressive £1,750. “I am absolutely amazed. The public response has been absolutely fantastic,” said Hazel Kingswood, branch and county chairman of the RBLWS.
The women were joined on the runway by 23 children from Buxton Primary School; members of the Spirit of Coltishall Association (SoCA); Aylsham Guides and Rangers; Miss Teen Norfolk, Gabi Ryan; plus members of the North Norfolk Classic Car Club, who brought along some of their vehicles and helped lay out the coins.
Rather than arrange them in a mile-long row, the RBLWS decided to spell out “2p mile” and then schoolchildren helped to lay a long line of coins which doubled back on itself.
“I don’t think – with the best will in the world – we women could have coped on our knees laying a whole mile’s-worth!” said Mrs Kingswood.
The coins had been collected from sources including pupils at Buxton Primary, the Douglas Bader School on the former RAF base, and Bure Valley School, Aylsham.
RBLWS branches around the county also contributed, together with SoCA, car clubs, the Dixons Centre, on Reepham Road, Norwich, Miss Ryan, and service families from RAF Marham.
“We even had residents from Badersfield who live near the runway, who saw what we were doing and came across with their contributions,” said Mrs Kingswood.
“It’s been baking hot but there’s been a really good atmosphere. People have been very generous.”
RBLWS members also sold books and cakes in the Aylsham branch of Barclays Bank, where customers were invited to donate 2ps. Their combined efforts raised £363 which will be matched by the bank.
The feat was part of a national challenge thrown out to RBLWS branches around the country.
Mrs Kingswood said they would continue collecting 2ps until the end of August and if anyone would like to donate they should contact her on 01263 734091 or Lesley Willcocks, 01263 734115.
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