Former serviceman from Stevenage takes part in Royal Air Force centenary celebrations

PUBLISHED: 13:48 13 July 2018

Brian Kemp from Stevenage was one of eight standard bearers that lined the route into Westminster Abbey for the RAF100 ceremony. Picture: Brian Kemp

Brian Kemp from Stevenage was one of eight standard bearers that lined the route into Westminster Abbey for the RAF100 ceremony. Picture: Brian Kemp

Archant

The standard bearer for the Stevenage branch of the Royal Air Force Association represented the town as the RAF celebrated its 100-year anniversary in London on Tuesday.

Brian and his wife Patricia attended the reception at Horse Guards Parade. Picture: Brian KempBrian and his wife Patricia attended the reception at Horse Guards Parade. Picture: Brian Kemp

Brian Kemp, 81, was one of eight standard bearers to line the route into Westminster Abbey, coming within inches of the royal family.

“There were 32 of us carrying standards that day and eight of us were chosen to actually line the route,” he said.

“All the royals – the Queen, Prince William and Harry, Kate and Meghan – came through past us.

“I was in touching distance of the Queen and Prince Charles spoke to me. He said ‘well done’.”

The celebrations included the service at Westminster, a parade along The Mall with more than 1,000 servicemen and women, and a spectacular flypast of 100 aircraft from throughout the RAF’s history.

This included three of the new F-35 jets roaring overhead, and a formation of 22 Eurofighter Typhoons – the largest in the forces history – spelling out 100 in the sky.

Brian and his wife Patricia also attended a reception afterwards at Horse Guards Parade, with aircraft such as the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Harrier jump jet and the Gloster Meteor – which broke the world air speed record in 1946 – on display.

Brian praised the RAF for the event, saying: “It was a fantastic affair and I commend the RAF on how they organised it.

“It was absolutely tremendous.”

As standard bearer for Stevenage’s RAFA, Brian attends events across the UK each year.

“I’ve been doing it for 25 years now,” he explained.

“I do the Battle of Britain service every year at Westminster Abbey and I always carry the standard for the Stevenage remembrance service.

“We take part in all RAF functions and quite often we meet up with the remaining Battle of Britain pilots.”

A former serviceman himself, Brian is delighted to still be associated with the RAF.

“I was in the RAF in the 1950s, based at Andover in Hampshire,” he said.

“I was on the signals department, but I did fly quite a bit with the pilots.

“We are still very much part of the RAF family, which is great.”

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