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Video: Battle of Britain week begins with fly-by in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:16 10 September 2012 | UPDATED: 18:41 10 September 2012

Lord Mayor inspecting troops from RAF Marham at the Battle of Britain parade at City Hall in Norwich.  Photo: Bill Smith

Lord Mayor inspecting troops from RAF Marham at the Battle of Britain parade at City Hall in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

Battle of Britain Week got off to a rousing start in Norwich with a Spitfire taking part in a fly-past above the city centre as crowds gathered below to watch an RAF parade.

The event featured music from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and a parade by personnel from RAF Marham, while the noon fly-past from the Spitfire added to the sense of occasion.

The week commemorates the pivotal battle which saw the Luftwaffe try to gain air superiority over Britain in 1940.

The Nazi’s 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, 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”, and added: “It is important that we remember what has happened so that we can face the future with a lot more confidence.”

RAF Marham Group Captain David Cooper said his men and women 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 commemorated 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, Stan Sayer, 88, 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 of remembering the events of 1940 today – adding that more should be taught in schools.

On Sunday, at 11am, there will be a public service at Norwich Cathedral to mark Battle of Britain Week, followed by a march past by personnel from RAF Marham. Lord Mayor Ralph Gayton will take the salute in the cathedral grounds to coincide with a Spitfire flypast at 12.10pm

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