Branch No.1159
Branch Charity No.1070716

R.A.F.A. Dedication

"In friendship and in service one to another, we are pledged to keep alive the memory of those of all nations who died in the Royal Air Force and in the Air Forces of the Commonwealth. In their
name we give ourselves to this noble cause, proudly and thankfully we will remember them."


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Funeral of Ian Holmes
Members of RAFA Abbots and Kings Langley Branch and British Legion Abbots Langley attended West Herts Crematorium on 2nd June to pay their final respects to Ian Holmes, who was a well loved and respected member of both organisations.
Ian was a regular attendee at our Branch meetings and was a great supporter of our outings. He had a very keen interest in the RAF and aviation generally and was very knowledgeable on such matters. His background was as an engineer and vehicle body builder. Ian worked at Benskin’s Brewery in Watford for many year and built horse drays for beer delivery and mobile bars for outside functions.
The service was conducted by the Reverend David Warner of St Lawrence Abbots Langley and the coffin appropriately entered to the tune of the the RAF March Past. Moving tributes were given by a close friend and a member of the family. The RAFA and British Legion standards were lowered at the committal. A reception was held at the Royal Oak at Kitters Green where members enjoyed talking about Ian with the family. Rest in Peace Ian.


The arrival of the hearse with escort

The standard bearers salute the coffin


Annual Area Conference 2015
Eight members of the branch attended the Annual Area Conference at Potters in Norfolk in March. It was a most enjoyable weekend with a range of very interesting and informative speakers. Certificates were presented to branches for various achievements. Pictured below are Branch Treasurer, Trevor Hayes receiving the Small Branch Efficiency Certificate and Pat Hayes, Honorary Welfare Officer and Social Secretary receiving the certificate for achieving over 10,000 collected for Wings, presented by Air Marshal Sir Roger Austin, RAFA President for the South East and Eastern Area. Geoff Elmes paraded the Standard on behalf of the Branch.


Royal Air Forces Association Abbots and Kings Langley and Royal British Legion Abbots Langley Joint Games Night

On the evening of 2nd March ten members of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Abbots and Kings Langley Branch joined the Royal British Legion (RBL) Abbots Langley at the Trowley Rise Working Men’s Club for a joint games night. The visitors were made very welcome by Pam Lewis and her members and after settling in quickly got down to the serious business of competing for the challenge cup held by the RBL. There were some keenly contested matches involving darts, cribbage, skittles and shove ha’penny. Some members learnt knew skills whilst others displayed hard earned lifetime experience.
At the interval for the excellent refreshments provided by members, the teams were running neck and neck and all depended on the final game of cribbage. The RAFA team played to the occasion and won by a single point.
The cup was kindly presented by Councillor Chris Lloyd, the Chair of Three Rivers District Council who had joined us for the evening (see photo above).
Members of the RBL and RAFA were all agreed that it was a really enjoyable evening and look forward to the next joint meeting.


Branch Visit to RAF Halton

A group of 17 members from the Abbots and Kings Langley Branch RAFA had a most interesting and enjoyable visit to RAF Halton recently. Included in the visit were Halton House, the Trenchard Museum and the recently opened James Mc Cudden Flight Heritage Centre. The house was magnificent and the guide, Trixie Brabner, was most informative and knowledgeable. A very welcome tea break was followed by a short car journey to the Trenchard Museum. The guide there informed the group that it was male dominated and there was not much to interest the ladies. The ladies had to disagree with that statement as there were a wealth of interesting items to hold their attention. The visit ended with a short walk to the new Heritage Centre, with the flight simulator being the "icing on the cake" and several members took to the controls. All in all, a fantastic place to visit."

Member Pam Grey in the Trenchard Museum

Branch Chairman John Rose on a personal guided tour
in the James McCudden Flight Heritage Centre

Branch Treasurer Trevor Hayes at the controls of the Chipmunk Flight Simulator in the James McCudden Flight Heritage Centre. (and he did manage to land safely)
Members and friends at RAF Halton House

An Honours Award Evening was held on 18th December 2014 at Watford Grammar School for Boys to recognise the excellent efforts of the cadets of 2(F) Squadron ATC, Leavesden, throughout the year.

During 2014,the cadets raised a very impressive 2390.70 towards the Wings Appeal total for the Abbots and Kings Langley Branch of RAFA. The majority of this sum was raised during three days' of collecting at the ASDA store in Watford. As a thank you, and in recognition of their efforts, Branch Chairman, Group Captain John Rose OBE, presented certificates of appreciation to 17 cadets, some of whom are pictured, with John. He also presented trophies to the three cadets who raised the greatest individual amounts. The recipients of these were Flt Sgt Zandes, Cadet Donnelly and Cadet Selvakkumar.
As a token of appreciation, a cheque for 500 from the Abbots and Kings Langley Branch RAFA was presented, by John, to 2(F) OC, Squadron leader Simon Cooper RAFVR(T), to purchase equipment for the Squadron which was gratefully received." This was raised by holding a coffee morning in the village and a "Bring and Buy" sale.

Cadet Donnelly and Cadet Selvakkumar. (In the centre of the picture).

Cheque Presentation


WW1 Commemorative Services in Abbots and Kings Langley – August 2014

Christopher Fox was an ordinary man whose bravery and courage in the appalling situations he found himself in, are an example of the compassion of one man for his fellows. Christopher was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917.
In 2007 permanent memorials to Christopher Fox VC were unveiled at Achiet le Grand, France on the battlefield where his bravery led to his VC award and in his home village of Kings Langley.
The 4th of August 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the day Britain entered one of the costliest conflicts in history – the First World War – with fighting continuing until the 11th of November 1918, Armistice Day. Kings and Abbots Langley “Back to the Front Groups” (Supported by Kings Langley Parish Council) held a Candlelit Vigil in the Village Garden and around the War Memorial.
A service of commemoration and remembrance for the men from the village and surrounding areas who laid down their lives in the cause of freedom during World War 1, 1914 – 1918.



The vigil was a reflective service of readings and prayers expressing the sorrow and confusion of war and humanities age-old longing for peace.  On the occasions of the service we recalled those who waited in the summer of 1914 for war to be declared, some in great fear, others excited at the thoughts of impending battle. 

The visual symbolism of  light and darkness was an important aspect of the service.  Four candles, representing the four corners of the world were placed around the alter.  The candles were extinguished after each of the first four readings, reminding us  of Sir Edward Grey’s comment on the eve of war, “the lamps are going out all of Europe”.  A fifth, larger candle was bought in the reading of the Gospel  remind us that we can only face the enclosing darkness in the light of Jesus Christ.

The Vigil was an opportunity for us to remember and honour the memory of those who died in the First World War, to share the grief and pride of those communities and families still marked by the suffering of those years – and to pray for peace.



RAFA Branch Associate Member & Parish Bell Ringer


David Arthur Harris was “born in the High Street, Abbots Langley, in 1943 – No. 13 opposite St Lawrence. I was one of five children with one younger brother and three older sisters. My Dad, Arthur, owned a taxi company – A. Harris. “I went to the Village school, then on to Francis Coombe. When I left school, I became a lorry driver/salesman selling bananas to retail shops and I did that for 40 years. After I retired, I drove the Welfare Bus for ten years, picking up elderly and disabled people.

“Our family has always had close links with St. Lawrence. Grandad worked for the church in the 1900’s – some of his duties were to dig the graves and to care for the church clock, winding and re-setting it every day. He lived at No. 31, opposite the Lych-gate. My sister, Betty, used to ring the bells as a teenager with the Youth Group. When they were confirmed, they had to do something for the church so she chose bell ringing. She took me up into the Tower when I was 12 and got me into the ‘swing of things’. I loved it and have been ringing for 57 years and the Tower Captain for 35 years.”

The sound of bells is deeply rooted in British culture. Almost everyone lives within hearing range of bells. They acclaim our historic moments, our celebrations and our grief. They have, over the centuries, called us to wake, to work, to pray and to arms.

They have sounded our freedom and our peace –as in World War II, they hung silent until the day the War was over. Obviously, David is really enthusiastic about bell ringing but when we got into “the band pulling strokes with the sally and ringing set pieces or methods” - I was lost. (I think it will need a future article in Outlook to discuss this fascinating subject. JR.)

“We have eight ringers in the band and six bells to ring. We ring for regular church services, weddings, funerals, royal occasions, the Christmas Donkey Services and Midnight Mass. The longest full peal we have ever rung was three hours and 40 minutes. I have travelled all over the country to ring in other church towers - from Edinburgh to the West Country, Norfolk to the Isle of Wight.” David also organises the hand bell ringers that meet on a Monday morning and he has had an allotment for 18 years where he “grows weeds and sweet peas for Pam in the Church Office. (“The sweet peas not the weeds!”)

David is passionate about keeping the English art of bell ringing going. “Recently, a gentleman wandered up to the Tower. He had just moved to Abbots Langley and had heard the bells when he was in his back garden. So he came up to listen to the bells ‘talk’. He now has a good understanding how the bells work. “We really do need to find more members for the band and I encourage anyone who might be interested to come and see what we do. You only have to be over 11 years and under 111. We will provide all the coaching necessary so a new member can learn to handle a bell properly - just come up to the Tower on a Monday evening around 7.30 pm - and it’s free!”

Bell ringing has been an English art for centuries and David is helping to keep history  alive in Abbots Langley. “I am just happy to be a Village Bellringer.”

Judy Roe


Certificate of Merit Presentation - Thursday 10th July

Earlier this year, and as a result of everyone's hard work last year, our Branch received various accolades and certificates of merit at the Annual Regional Meeting in Bracklesham Bay and the Annual Conference in Blackpool.
This being the case the Committee met to discuss, and identify, any Members that had also done exceptional, voluntary, work for the Branch.
We identified and agreed on five people and these photographs show them receiving their Certificates of Appreciation by our Branch Chairman, John Rose.
Footnote: It should be pointed out that John Curlewis received his Certificate separately as he was unavailable on the night and that Mrs Elaine Morey will be receiving hers at a later date.

Val - Looking very pleased with her Certificate

John Curlewis receiving his Certificate from Wings Coordinator, Emlyn Parry

Pat receiving her Certificate from Chairman, John Rose

Rose -Mary receiving her Certificate from Chairman, John Rose

Val receiving her Certificate from Chairman, John Rose

Rose-Mary Curlewis, Pat Hayes, Val Elmes. With Committee in the background


Warner Brothers Film Studios "Behind the Scenes" guided tour - Tuesday July 8th

Some time ago I tried to facilitate a visit to the, then, new Warner Brothers film studios based on my ace card, that I used to work there.
It was then Rolls Royce (small engine division) before I joined the Royal Air Force and afterwards when flying in there visiting my parents, friends and family.
Without success and getting nowhere I shied away until again just recently. I took a call and spoke with one of the Directors and he very kindly invited me today for a personalised guided tour.
It was great seeing the wonderful transition from old to new and just how Warner Brothers have transformed the whole site. We saw through many film sets and buildings including famous actors from new films such as "Tarzan".
We finished the tour with Oliver, our host, with a trip to the Air Traffic Control Tower where he pointed out that he had possession of all landings and take offs where even I had signed.
Evelyn and I had a great time and our most sincere thanks go out to Warners Brothers and, more especially, Oliver.


Bushey Spires 10k - Sunday 6th July

Another outing for my RAFA running vest, this time at the Bushey Spires 10k.
The cooler weather and flat course helped me achieve
the time of 52 minutes, my fastest 10k this year.
It was an enjoyable race and a good training run in preparation for the
marathons on the horizon.
Wish me luck !



Royal Air Force Central Band - Thursday July 3rd



On Thursday the 3rd a group of us visited the Colosseum in Watford to enjoy the music of the Royal Air Force Central Band.

They were accompanied by the Mill Hill Orchestra and
Choir where together they provided a very entertaining
musical spectacle.
A very pleasant evening, enjoyed by all in our group and a tribute to the RAF Central Band and Mill Hill School.




Armed Forces Weekend - ASDA Collecting 28th & 29th June


Last weekend we managed to make an outstanding 2693.36 collection at ASDA's made up of this Branch committee members, members, an RAF airman and Cadets from the local 2F Squadron Cadets.

This adds to our collecting and, to date, we have now collected 8555.33 this year which is truly remarkable and unheard of in the previous years of this Branch.

My congratulations and sincere thanks goes out to all those that have helped in the support of this Branch and RAFA as a whole.


Veterans Day Lunch - Abbots Langley Pavilion - Thursday June 26th
The Abbots Langley Veterans Lunch was planned and organised by the village Branch of the Royal British Legion.
It was an enormous event, the lunch was delicious and the company as good as ever.
We have an excellent relationship with the RBL and often have joint events and games nights and long may it live.
I know that I can speak for everyone within RAFA when I say a very big thank you for a wonderful get together.
Presentation of "Certificate of Appreciation" to Watford 2F Squadron ATC

Trevor Hayes presenting the certificate
to Cpl Brugier
Treasurer of the Abbots and Kings Langley Branch RAFA presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Corporal Hannah Brugier of Watford 2F Squadron ATC in gratitude for the efforts of the cadets in collecting the sum of 2054.17 towards the branch's overall total of 10,068 in 2013. The majority of this sum was collected at the Asda supermarket in Watford throughout the year.
Incidentally, this was the first year in the branch's history that an amount in excess of 10,000 had ever been raised.


Trevor Hayes with Cpl Brugier and Pat Hayes, HWO and ATC/RAFA liaison officer, Abbots and Kings Langley Branch RAFA.
Ashridge Half Marathon - Sunday June 22nd
A very hot day and an early start but after a long night shift at the Hospital I was ready for a run before, eventually, getting a well earned rest and sleep.The run was limited in numbers to only 500 and I was lucky to get a place.
An off track run, very hilly and varying terrains but, apart from a couple of mishaps, we all made it back safely.
Onward and upward and just a couple of months until the Abbots 10k where I hope to have the team together to really put RAFA into the Abbots Langley High Street.
Wish me luck, Evelyn.
Abbots Langley Carnival - Saturday June 14th
The Abbots Langley Carnival was a resounding success, in that, after a great deal of planning and preparation, it went quite smoothly.
Support from committee and members was very good. We did have some early, quite heavy, rain showers but eventually the weather cleared which meant for a nice dry, sunny, day in the park.
After a long day we went home tired but were very pleased with the fact that we had collected 458.10 fote Well done everyone, Emlyn.

Celebrating National Annual Conference Presentation at monthly social evening, 12th June


St Albans Half Marathon - Sunday June 8th


"Another hot, sunny, day and time to put on my RAFA vest and run in another local race. This time I upped my mileage and took on the St Albans half marathon, 13.1 miles.
This race starts and finishes in the Veralum Park and is mostly a road race. So lots of spectators and cheers of "come on RAF" kept me going.
I finished after 2hrs and 5 minutes and was rewarded with an ice lolly and another medal to add to my ever growing collection.
What's next ? More training and team building as we head towards this years Isle of Wight and Florence marathons.
Wish me luck, Evelyn."

Kings Langley 10k - Sunday 1st June

The Kings Langley 10K was my second event representing RAFA
The course was through the picturesque villages of Chipperfield and Sarratt, very scenic if a little hilly.Again it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. Support along the way is always welcome and I am sure my eye- catching running vest earnt me an extra cheer!
Next week I am upping the mileage as I shall be representing RAFA in the St Albans half marathon.
Wish me luck.
Evelyn Normile.
National Annual Conference, Blackpool 16th - 18th May 2014
Branch Secretary Ken Curlewis, as delegate attended the RAFA Annual Conference 2014, held between 17 - 18 May in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, accompanied by wife Rose-Mary.

At the morning meeting on Saturday 17th, chaired by Air Marshall Sir Dusty Miller, the Worshipful Mayor welcomed all attending the Conference, where the programme included the Annual Report for 2013, given by the Chairman of Central Council, a Financial Report by Hon Treasurer. Discussions on ten resolutions, after which either approvals or rejections were decided, the election results to the new Central Council and finally a Presentation by the controller of the RAFBF.

Following lunch, in the afternoon, the Director of Welfare addressed the meeting and this was followed by a parachute display by the RAF Falcons, on the North Promenade.

In the evening meeting, trophies were presented by Sir Dusty Miller, which included the "Small Branch most Efficient Shield" to our Branch, with his congratulations for a well deserved situation, which was the second time it has been awarded to us, the first time being 1995. The RAF Regiment Queens Colour Squadron then gave an excellent Continuity Drill Display.

On Sunday18th a Parade of Branch Standards and a March past took place, followed by a Service of Dedication by the Chaplain to the RAF, at the North Promenade War Memorial.

After returning to the Winter Gardens, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford addressed the meeting with a very good talk on the commitments and resources of the RAF today.

The Conference was closed with a ceremony and the singing of the National Anthem.

Finally, as we had not been able to get a good photograph of Sir Andrew Pulford, whilst he was on stage, he agreed for a photograph to be taken outside of the meeting Hall.
22 June 2014

Abbots Langley Bell Ringers


Two RAFA members, David Harris and Evelyn Normile, are also local bell-ringers at St Lawrence's Church, Abbots Langley.
Bell-ringing is a traditional British art dating back 400 years.
Each bell is hung on a large wheel in the bell tower. This allows the bell-ringer to control the bell so they can be rung in a continuous pattern, known as a method.
During the war bells were silenced but rung out to celebrate the end of the war.
This year to commemorate 100 years since the beginning of WW1 the bell-ringers will be ringing as part of the special service at St Lawrence's.


Wheathamstead Run


My first run for my new sponsor RAFA, the Wheathampstead 10k on Sunday 18th May. The course is rural and off road through woods and local farmland. I was kept going by the beautiful scenery and spectators who lined the route cheering "come on RAF", although it was a little disconcerting when someone shouted "you have a target on your back", possibly making me run slightly faster ! It was a very warm and sunny day, the post race banana and drink very welcome.
Now I am in training for my next race, the Kings Langley 10k on Sunday the first of June.
Wish me luck.
Evelyn Normile.

  Coffee Morning - 3rd May

Coffee morning raised 403.75.


March of the Penguins


Whilst deployed to the Falkland Islands, a team of four serving RAF Personnel from Tactical Supply Wing and RAF Brize Norton planned and completed a charity event (The March of The Penguins) in aid of the Royal Air Force Association raising over 700. SAC Pollard said, "We all agreed it was a good opportunity to raise money for an important member of the RAF Family".
Cpl Robert Cooke, SAC Gareth Pollard, SAC Craig George and SAC Elliot Drake were deployed to the South Atlantic Islands to provide Rotors Turning Refuel assistance to all military support helicopters. The refuelling they provided allowed the Helicopters to fly to all areas of the Falkland Islands to move equipment and personnel. They also provided 24 hour support to the Search and Rescue Seaking Helicopter!! Cpl Cooke said about the tour, "it's tough being away from our friends and family but the job we were doing was very rewarding, especially whilst supporting the Emergency Search and Rescue aircraft". 
On the 26th November 2013 they completed the distance from Fox Bay in the West Island to Port Stanley in the East Island (The Capital of the Falkland Islands) and back again. The gruelling total of 291 miles was achieved by means of a rowing machine, bike and treadmill. The team of 4 split the three exercises into 30 minute stints and after a very sore 10 hours later the event was completed. SAC Drake said after the event, "that's the hardest thing I've ever done".

SAC George said after the event, "The support we were given really gave us the motivation to push through the exhaustion and complete the event. Our families and friends back home sent out letters of encouragement and the RAFA Abbots and Kings Langley branch sent us some T-Shirts. The local school made some posters for the event and the local Falkland Islanders stopped of throughout the day and even baked us a cake!!"

"The March of the Penguins" who raised 490 for us.

Everybody met in Hunters Lodge, Hunton Bridge for the handing over of the cheque.



The Parish Council has awarded Royal Air Forces Abbots and Kings Langley Branch 250
under the General Power of Competence, Localism Act 2011 Sec 1. (1),
for the purpose of supporting meeting and association event costs.
Emlyn Parry
Wings Appeal Coordinating Officer.


Bracklesham Bay Regional Conference 21st- 23rd March 2014

Emlyn and Ken displaying our Certificates.

Emlyn Parry collecting our first ever certificate from Air Vice-Marshall "Dusty Miller" of having collected more that 10 000 for our Branch this year.

Membership Secretary, Ken Curlewis,
receiving the Certificate for winning "Most Efficient" Branch for the third year running

Team picture of all attending the Conference.




Asda Christmas Collection 2013

Emlyn Parry & Trevor Hayes

Would you buy a car from these two?


Battle of Britain Memorial Service
1:50pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News By Callum Ryan, Reporter Watford Observer

Former servicemen and women mustered in Abbots Langley at 11am on Sunday 19th September for the annual Battle of Britain memorial service.
Serving members of the Royal Air Force, Royal British Legion members, Air Cadets, and veterans marched from The Kings Head at Hunton Bridge and through Abbots Langley.
The march finished at St Pauls Church, Langleybury, where the group laid a wreath and took part in an hour-long memorial service.
During the morning, traffic was stopped by police so that the procession was free to walk in the roads.
Emlyn Parry, Wings Appeal Coordinator for the Abbots Langley and Kings Langley branch of the RAF Association, said: "What a splendid and significant day for our Abbots and Kings Langley Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, the Royal British Legion and the local Royal Air Force Cadets. The weather blessed us, the turn-out was remarkable, and the service was very moving."

Picture: Abbots Langley parade marks Battle of Britain memorial service

St Paul's Church at Langleybury packed as crowd gathers to honour Battle of Britain heroes
Crowds of people filled St Paul's Church at Langleybury to honour servicemen and women who fought in the Battle of Britain.
Those present at the Hunton Bridge church included chairman of Abbots Langley Parish Council Councillor Keith Williams, members of the Royal British Legion, cadets from the Air Training Core, standard bearers, and former and current service personnel.

Click above to view further pictures.
Photography Eddie Dillon


Abbots Langley RAF veteran David Francis DFC, 90, to retire from air force charity

A 90-year-old war veteran is finally set to retire after "giving his life to the RAF" for more than 70 years.
The former flight lieutenant, of Kitters Green, Abbots Langley, joined the RAF in 1942 and spent four years in active service during the Second World War and a further 10 years in the Voluntary Reserves.
David Francis has since spent more than 50 years serving the community of Abbots Langley through his involvement in two major charities. From 1962 to 1982 he worked with 2(F) Squadron Watford Air Training Corp and in later years combined this role with his position with the Royal Air force Association (RAFA). He is currently the chairman of the association.
RAFA treasurer Trevor Hayes said: "All his life he has been associated with the RAF and he’s given his life to them."
In 2008 Mr Francis received the Association's National Presidential Certificate, in recognition of his tireless work for the charity.
Patricia Hayes, honorary welfare officer, said: "He is very modest. He’s always been very sociable and chatty. The family are very close and love him to bits."
Mrs Hayes added: "We presented him with a book of his lifetime achievements. The book was full of tributes from some of the cadets he had worked with at Watford 2F. They had written letters explaining that they wouldn’t be where they are today without David."
Mr Francis met his wife, Edna, in 1942 when he was working as an RAF serviceman and knocked on her door to borrow some tea. Fellow RAFA member and wings appeal coordinator, Emlyn Parry, said that Edna is 100 per cent behind him.
Mr Parry said: "They are joined at the hip and have a real 50/50 relationship. Without her support he would not be where he is today.
"David is very well known and well loved in the village. They have been so busy throughout their whole lives but they do it so unselfishly. They are both so unassuming and humble and have never looked for any praise.
In July 2008 the 2F Squadron Air Training Corps Headquarters was renamed "The David Francis Headquarters".
Mr and Mrs Francis’ daughter, Elaine, said of her parents: "They are just an amazing couple who have put so much into so many things that have helped so many people. It’s amazing that they are both 90 years old. Dad has done some wonderful things but mum has always been the strength behind him. The family are all very proud of them both."
Mr Francis is set to retire as chairman of the association in 2014.
To sum Mr Francis up, Mr Hayes added: "You have to run to keep up with him. He just doesn’t stop."
Emlyn Parry -
August 16th 2013

AN Abbots Langley group founded by air force veterans, including actor Peter Sellers, celebrated five decades in 2009. Remembering the
group's origin, president and chairman David Francis, said: "In 1959 this branch was formed by four men in a back room of the Unicorn public house in Abbots Langley on 7th February" He added: "The first president was Peter Sellers the actor - he lived in Chipperfield and attended one function in the branch which was a dance. "Generally he, of course, had other interests. "From that we've come to the present day when the branch is healthy -we are thriving and still going strong." He said: "The Wings charity is the main part of its existence. "It is there to look after people, old or young, who might not be able to look after themselves any more."They might need a stair lift or an armchair, anything."It doesn't matter how old they are or when they served. "It's about the spirit that we had in the war and trying to keep it alive as much as possible."

RAFA Abbots & Kings Langley Branch
'Golden Tassels Award' 13th March 2009


  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - A True Story of a Lost Airman

As a Welfare Officer for the Royal Air Forces Association, I have had many requests for medical equipment, respite breaks, financial assistance and general "tea and sympathy" visits from a variety of Veterans, but I faced my ultimate challenge  in January 2010 when I met "David" an ex airman who was suffering with multiple physical problems and whose needs were many fold. David had served in the Falklands, Northern Ireland and the first Gulf war to name but a few. He served for just over 22 years, and in that time had been through some rather nasty experiences. David had retired from the Royal Air Force in 1999. He was divorced, lived alone, and had no contact with any of his family members. He had no friends living nearby.  David had almost totally withdrawn from Society and I was convinced was the author of the book " A thousand excuses to avoid going out". It became apparent to me that as well as physical problems, there may also be some psychological problems,  but, David denied that he was suffering from any form of mental trauma resulting from his RAF service. He said there had been "incidents" but the memory of them had been buried many years before. Being quite concerned about David's well being, and not liking to see what had once been a very active, intelligent and capable man slipping away into a very dark place, I sought help from Combat Stress and was advised to print off some information from the Combat Stress website and ask David to read them when he had a spare moment or two. He agreed to do this and, after a year of building trust, giving lots of emotional support and understanding, David opened up to me and admitted that he was having nightmares and flashbacks from the past and that he needed help. I think that this was a very brave step as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a comfortable bedfellow, it is "the invisible wound" that no-one can see, unlike a broken arm or a cut on the forehead.
David agreed that I could contact Combat Stress on his behalf and start the ball rolling to get him some treatment. He was assessed in his home by a Welfare Officer ( ex military) and then by a psychiatric nurse. Further assessments were carried out by a psychiatrist, followed by a one week residential assessment at the Combat Stress Treatment Centre at Tyrwhitt House in Leatherhead Surrey. After being diagnosed with PTSD during these assessments, David was then offered, a six week residential treatment course at Tyrwhitt House which he attended and followed to the letter with great enthusiasm. He was with other veterans who had similar experiences, but each one had his or her own problems. The symptoms of PTSD are many and varied. There can be nightmares, flashbacks, anger and resentment, depression, feelings of guilt, difficulty in forming or maintaining relationships, violence, alcohol and drug dependency, tendency to self harm, suicidal thoughts, feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and even turning to crime. This is not a comprehensive list, there are many forms of PTSD. At Combat Stress, veterans are given group therapy sessions, one to one sessions with a psychiatrist and/ or psychologist, relaxation therapy and are generally given 100% support to ease them back in to everyday life by exorcising their demons and learning to cope with whatever life throws at them.
There is no cure for PTSD, but the veteran is taught to be in control and to cope with the dark days and troublesome symptoms. There is a 24 hour helpline available for anyone who needs to talk to someone who understands and cares.

David is now a new man since completing his course at Combat Stress. He has a totally different outlook on life, is motivated , confident and happy. He has thrown himself into charity work with the Royal Air Forces Association and is helping others like himself.  Combat Stress are always there for the Veteran and also, equally importantly, for the family and loved ones of the Veteran. There are many other success stories like David's.

The purpose of my writing this article is to encourage anyone who may be suffering from stress related symptoms, or who knows someone else who is, to speak to their GP, Welfare Worker, or directly to Combat Stress to get help. It is not a sign of weakness,  and nothing to be ashamed of, we are all human.The Armed Forces teach you to be strong and tough. It is so hard to admit to mental difficulties- even to yourself. It can take, on average,  up to 14 years for PTSD to manifest itself after an incident. With all that is going on today, there are many that will suffer, now and in the future. I urge anyone in this situation to get help. I am so pleased that David did. He is my success story and I am so proud of him. He is living again thanks to Combat Stress.
If anyone would like further information and would like to talk to me, or David, to discuss his story, please feel free to ring me on 07760 224992, in confidence.

Pat Hayes
Honorary Welfare Officer
Royal Air Forces Association
Abbots and Kings Langley Branch



Abbots Langley RAFA group, meets on the 2nd Thursday of every month,

The Chairman & Hon. Secretary Reports - 2009
It's been an eventful year. With celebrating the 50th birthday of the branch, attending the RAFA National Conference (which we don't do very often) and sadly losing a few members, but gaining a few more to welcome into our fold.
On a personal note, receiving my National Presidential Certificate at the Bournemouth National Conference too, well, it's all a bit too much to take in!
In September we have our annual 'Wings' collection in Asda, Kings Langley, Abbots Langley and Catherine Place. (October sees the cadets of 2F Watford Squadron collecting at Sainsbury's in North Watford). Watford railway stations are a bit out of our reach due to the lack of collectors, these stations are part of a vast area in which we are entitled to do our collecting. Please do your bit and help Geoff to do well.
With best wishes to you all for an enjoyable summer (if we get one!).
Dave Francis Chairman & President


The Branch Committee continues to meet each month (excluding December) where I am able to report on information received in the monthly South East Area Newsletter and to mention correspondence received since the last meeting and actions taken.
At the Branch AGM, held in February 2009, all Officers were re-elected for a further twelve months.
It was a great honour to be awarded an Area Presidential Certificate, which was presented to me at our social evening on 13/3/09, when the Branch received a gold tassel to our standard as itcelebrated our RAFA 50th Anniversary.Our Branch was not represented at the Area Conference weekend this year as we preferred to attend the National Conference in Bournemouth, between 15th and 17th May 2009, to give support to our President, who was receiving a National Presidential Certificate.
Rose-Mary and I attended at RAF Cosford on Sunday 28/6/09 for the National Service (RAF) Association Sixth Reunion and Parade and will be present at the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel Le Feme Parade on Sunday 12/7/09.
Following the death this year of some of our members, and the fact that a few decided not to renew their subscriptions to us, our numbers in January 2009 dropped from 107, reported in the Summer 2008 Newsletter, to 98. Fortunately, with recruitment since the beginning of the year, our current overall number has risen to 103 with, hopefully, a further 4 or 5 more applications in the pipeline.
Rev. Nicholas Pnematicatos, from St. Peter's Church, Rickmansworth,agreed to become our new Branch Padre. He was in the RAF until last year. Rev. Jo Spreadbury, from St. Lawrence Church, Abbots Langley, had to relinquish the position due to her other heavy commitments.
Hertfordshire Region of RAFA still meets regularly and its Committee was re-elected at their AGM in February of this year.
Following the first very successful Region Lunch held last year, another successful follow up Lunch was held on 3/6/09, at which the new RAFA Secretary General was Guest of Honour. It is to be hoped that these Lunches will continue to be held annually.
Other reports in this Newsletter will, no doubt, amplify on this report.
Ken Curlewis - Hon. Secretary, Membership Sec. and Region Delegate

RAFA Abbots Langley & Kings Langley Branch
2013 Committee

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