Crowd gathers for RAF Marham parade in King’s Lynn

A mixture of glorious sunshine and torrential downpours greeted those who flocked to the heart of King's Lynn yesterday to show their support for RAF Marham.

Men and women from the base exercised their freedom-of-the-borough right and began their march from Common Staithe Quay at 11.40am as sunshine burst through the overcast sky.

Hundreds of schoolchildren waved flags as members of IX and 2620 squadrons marched past and formed up on the Tuesday Market Place but the children were soon running for shelter as a heavy downpour threatened to ruin proceedings.

But as both young and old hid under umbrellas and the scaffolding adjourning the Duke's Head hotel, the showers died away and a civic procession led by the mayor's staff-bearer, sword-bearer and mace-bearers made its way from the Town Hall to the Tuesday Market Place.

The procession arrived just before noon as two Tornado GR4 aircraft roared across the overcast sky, much to the delight of spectators.

The newly-appointed borough mayor of Lynn and West Norfolk, Colin Sampson, then took the salute and inspected the parade before addressing those assembled on Tuesday Market Place.

The mayor said: 'I am really proud to have this opportunity to welcome you all to this great occasion.

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'I am certain everyone that is gathered here on the Tuesday Market Place whether it be families, friends or general members of public share that pride. We are all well aware of the intense pressure that all of you at Marham are working under at present with operations in places like Afghanistan but I wonder if we all really understand the effects of it all upon you.'

Marham's station commander Peter Rochelle then addressed the crowd before a procession left the Tuesday Market Place to applause from the crowd and headed to the Town Hall. The band of Royal Air Force College Cranwell also played at the event.

Group Capt Rochelle said: 'Yet again it is a huge honour to be with you and take this opportunity to exercise the freedom of King's Lynn.

'We are proud to be here on parade and immensely proud of the long-standing and strong relationship we have with King's Lynn, the wider West Norfolk community and East Anglia. Both RAF Marham and the Tornado force remains as committed as ever to make sure the relationship remains strong and mutually supportive.

'Operationally we remain committed on a number of fronts. I am hugely proud to report to you the fantastic job my team are delivering in both Afghanistan and over the skies of Libya. You will be aware it's the people that make the difference and before you are a small example of the young men and women that serve in your Armed Forces. None of this is possible without the support of friends, family and the local community.'

This year, the parade also had a special significance for Warrant Officer Paul Edwards and Flight Sgt Tony Murray, as both were born locally and educated in King's Lynn, at what was then the Gaywood Park School.

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