Rutland is bidding a fond farewell to one of its most recognisable faces this Sunday, as the county’s Lord Lieutenant steps down after 15 years in office.
Sir Laurence Howard OBE was appointed to the role in 2003, and has been serving as the Queen’s personal representative ever since.
A Royal Air Force parade will honour his retirement, with the RAF College band, members of 504 Squadron and 2248 (Rutland) Squadron Air Training Corps all marching through the town. Sir Laurence will also be granted the freedom of the town.
Former High Sheriff of Rutland Dr Sarah Furness has been appointed as the county’s new Lord Lieutenant and will officially begin her duties on March 29.
Sunday is an important milestone in the history of the RAF in the area marks both the centenary of the foundation of the service and the 90th anniversary of the creation of 504 (County of Nottingham) Squadron, which is based at RAF Wittering.
To commemorate the double celebration there will be a thanksgiving service at All Saints’ Church, Oakham, with the personnel being inspected by Sir Laurence outside the church at 3.30pm.
This week has also seen the opening of an exhibition celebrating 100 years of the RAF in Rutland.
Located in the Rutland County Museum in Oakham, the exhibition has been organised by the Royal Air Force Association Rutland Branch and the museum, and includes a wide range of equipment, models and interactive displays celebrating the force’s links with Rutland.
Gordon Diffey, deputy chairman of RAFA Rutland, said: “The RAF has enjoyed strong connections with Rutland over the course of its history, especially at Cottesmore and North Luffenham.
“At the height of its involvement in the county, there were some 5,000 personnel and their families located at RAF Cottesmore alone. Luffenham was just as important – at various times it was home to the aeromedical centre, the interpreters training centre and a bomb disposal unit. It was also an important part of the country’s defence during the Cold War and housed the Bloodhound and Thor missiles.
“We are pleased with the quality of the exhibition – it has the radio from a Lancaster bomber, a flying suit and ejector seat, medals, memorabilia as well as written and pictorial displays.”