Tornado flies over King’s Lynn for last time as RAF Marham personnel celebrate freedom of ther borough
- Credit: Archant
At the crack of noon, a Tornado thundered over the Tuesday Market Place for the final time.
The iconic warplane performed a flypast as servicemen and women from RAF Marham paraded to celebrate the freedom of the borough of West Norfolk.
First granted in 1981 - the year the Tornado force came to West Norfolk - the honour allows personnel to march through the town with bayonets fixed, colours flying and bands playing.
Today, the occasion has become an opportunity for local people to show their support of the station and its staff during the RAF's centenary year.
Hundreds gathered as the Band of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell marched onto the market place with Marham personnel, carrying the standard of IX(B) squadron.
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The ranks were inspected by West Norfolk mayor Carol Bower and base commander group Capt Ian 'Cab' Townsend.
Mrs Bower said: 'As mayor I would like to formally welcome you as you exercise your rights under the freedom of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.
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'I'm sure everyone gathered here today on the Tuesday Market Place, be they family, friends or general public will join me in wishing the RAF well on its anniversary.'
Mrs Bower added the future of Marham would be secured by the arrival of the F35 Lightning aircraft this summer, ensuring its contribution to the local economy would continue.
Group Capt Townsend said: 'It's a great honour as station commander of RAF Marham to exercise the freedom of the Borough of king's Lynn and West Norfolk.'
He added the Tornado, which had arrived at Marham in 1981, had been in operation continuously for the last 27 years.
'That is quite frankly amazing,' he said. 'We couldn't do what we do without the support of the local community, particularly the people of the Borough of king's Lynn and West Norfolk.' There was a standing ovation as personnel marched off the square led by the band.
Some £300m has been invested at Marham, where a new operational centre, maintenance buildings and runways have been built ready for the F35's arrival.
The aircraft's main base will be in West Norfolk, with jets also carried on board the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.