RAF Marham station commander, Group Captain Rich Davies, says a bittersweet farewell after two years in charge
- Credit: Ian Burt
A departing military commander is preparing to make his final flight in an iconic Tornado aircraft ahead of his emotional goodbye to a Norfolk airbase.
After two years in the role, Group Capt Rich Davies is standing down as station commander at RAF Marham.
Since taking on the role in August 2015, Group Capt Davies said his primary focus was looking after nearly 10,000 people in the station and across the whole force.
His most memorable moment was meeting the Queen with his family when she came to make her regular visit to the station.
'To be able to meet the Queen with my wife and children is a really special memory,' he said.
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He said being at RAF Marham during its centenary year in 2016 was a unique opportunity he was fortunate to have.
Group Capt Davies will be flying a Tornado jet for the last time before he embarks onto the next stage of his journey in the air force.
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'When I land it will probably hit me then that it is the last time I fly,' he said. 'I know it is the end. It has been a huge honour.'
He will be replacing his pilot hat with a thinking cap, as he joins the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.
He has spent 24 of his 27 years in the RAF flying the Tornados, which have been based at Marham since the early 1980s.
The new station commander will be overseeing the introduction of the Lightning II aircraft to the station, which Group Capt Rich Davies said will be an 'important responsibilty to have'.
The Tornado jets are set to be replaced by Lightning II aircraft in 2019.
Group Capt Davies added: 'He will have the challenge of bringing Lightning aircraft to the station at the same time also looking after its operational commitments.'
Describing Norfolk as one of the friendliest places to work in, Group Capt Davies will miss visits to the North Norfolk coast and the area's famed fish and chips - with his favourite being French's Fish and Chips in Wells-next-the-Sea.
On saying goodbye to this chapter of his life, he said: 'It has been emotional. It has been a long last month saying goodbye to so many people. It has been bittersweet.
'I will definitely come back to Norfolk. I have had such an amazing time.'