Staff at Neale Court Care Home in Lincoln were thrilled when two of their residents’ wish to see the Red Arrows up close came true on the day of the King’s Coronation.
As part of the Country Court ‘Make a Wish’ initiative, residents are given the opportunity to tell members of staff about somewhere they had always wanted to go or a special activity they had always wanted to do. Residents Alan and Laurie spoke to staff about their time serving in the Royal Air Force and mentioned how much they admired the Red Arrows. The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Waddington. The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands.
Christine Harding, the wellbeing coordinator at Neale Court began by contacting RAF Waddington and posted on social media to see if anyone would be able to help. Eventually she was contacted by Steve Kelly, the Chief technician at RAF Red Arrows, who kindly invited Alan and Laurie to visit RAF Waddington to meet the Red Arrows team. The pair were invited to watch as they prepared to take off for the flypast on the day of King Charles III Coronation, over Buckingham Palace in London. This was an opportunity not to be missed so the planning and organising commenced.
Alan, who is 94 worked for the Royal Air Force for forty years, beginning his career as a radar engineer, he was based at RAF North Luffenham for some of the time and he also had two tours in Cyprus. He likes to tell people that he was in the Royal Air Force for ten years before he got near an aeroplane. It is obvious that when talking about his career, he is extremely proud of being part of the Royal Air Force.
Laurie, who is 85, spent thirty years in the Royal Air Force, with some of the time as a clerk and then working in the storeroom.
During the visit to RAF Waddington, they were able to reminisce about their time and Steve and his team gave a knowledgeable tour around the hangar. The pair were able to get up close to some of the planes which were in the hangar being checked, watching the pilots get into their planes and seeing them taxi towards the runway as they headed off for the flypast, over London.
They were invited to stay to watch the flypast on the large screen in their tea bar, so Alan and Laurie had the full experience and to feel part of the historic event for the King’s Coronation.
They were kept up to date with what was happening due to the weather conditions, and they were extremely grateful to be able to see the Red Arrows go ahead and flypast Buckingham Palace only a few minutes after they had left RAF Waddington.
Laurie said, “It was amazing, I loved it. Those guys continue to do a good job like we did. It has been a brilliant day”.
Alan commented, “It was amazing to hear the sound of the engines as the Red Arrows started up. What a great day"
Chris, the wellbeing coordinator commented, “It was an absolute pleasure to make this wish happen, we all had a fabulous day with lots of stories shared. Thanks to the kindness of chief technician Steve Kelly and his team at RAF Waddington, this is an unforgettable experience for Alan and Laurie, and everyone involved”