"In friendship and in service one to and other, 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."
Battle of Britain Memorial
servicemen and women mustered in
Abbots Langley at 11am on Sunday
19th September for the annual Battle
of Britain memorial service.
1:50pm Thursday 19th September 2013
in News By Callum Ryan, Reporter
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
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
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
Click above to view further
Abbots Langley RAF veteran David
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.
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
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
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
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
'Golden Tassels Award' 13th March 2009
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.
Honorary Welfare Officer
Royal Air Forces Association
Abbots and Kings Langley Branch
Langley RAFA group, which meets on the 2nd
Thursday of every month,
for more information Telephone: 01923 262616.
The Chairman & Hon. Secretary Reports - 2009
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
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
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
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
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