Battle of Britain Week got off to a poignant start in Norwich yesterday with a parade and a fly-past by a Spitfire.

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The parade began with a tribute from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, as well as personnel from RAF Marham parading in front of City Hall and a fly-past by the Spitfire at noon.

The week commemorates the pivotal fight which saw the German air forces try to gain air superiority over Britain in 1940.

The Nazi failure to do so was a turning point in the second world war, which helped stop the invasion of the UK.

But it also led to the loss of many British lives, which continue to be remembered today.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, councillor Ralph Gayton, opened the event and stressed the need to support both serving and former members of the RAF.

He praised the “determination, courage, skill and sacrifice, against the odds”.

RAF Marham Group Captain David Cooper said his men and women at City Hall felt a “huge sense of pride” to have the opportunity to parade in front of the crowds and veterans.

He praised the enthusiasm and support of the public – as well as the number of people who came to Norwich for the parade.

The station commander added: “We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public.”

One onlooker at the event, Dennis Matthews, 65, said he and his wife always commemorate the week in the city centre and praised the Spitfire’s flight over City Hall,

He said: “Norwich has always supported this and it’s important that we do.”

Norfolk County Council also honoured the servicemen and women at a civic reception.

The chairman of the county council, Ian Monson, stressed how proud the county was of the “long-standing links with the Royal Air Force” and said the reception was to honour the “invaluable contribution made by all the servicemen and women who dedicated their time and efforts, and in many cases gave their lives, for their country”.

RAF Association volunteer, 88-year-old Stan Sayer, from Taverham, was fundraising for the charity which provides care and support for those with connections to the RAF.

He was enlisted in the RAF in 1943, and stressed the importance to remember the events of 1940 today –adding more should be taught in schools.

rosa.mcmahon@archant.co.uk

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