Reflections of RAF100

It’s been a month since many of you got the chance to celebrate our Centenary with us in London. Squadron Leader Ali Russell-Brookes, Training Wing Chief Of Staff, took the time to tell us about her incredible experience leading the thousands of spectators down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace during the RAF100 Parade.

She recalls: “The Parade progressed down The Mall and from my vantage point on the corner of Horse Guards Road my heart boomed in anticipation. The radio earpiece crackled as the Parade passed the Queen Victoria Memorial, “Parade clear of The Mall; assume stand-by positions for the walk-down”. It was the first time anyone other than the Metropolitan Police had led a public walk-down The Mall, and I would be front-and-centre of it all.

“The twenty-four airmen and women took their places across the width of The Mall, the joyous occasion creating broad, beaming smiles. My pride and excitement were palpable as I took position on the centreline of the tarmac, a few paces ahead of them. It seemed like an age before the street lining companies began to march-off, but as the first section departed The Mall, I radioed to control, “all call-signs, confirm zero-five minutes to Mall move.

“Ahead, the magnificent, billowing RAF Ensigns and Union Flags adorned The Mall’s street furniture, with thousands of miniature versions being enthusiastically waved by the celebrating crowds. The penultimate street lining section began to move and I sent my final radio message, “all-call signs, stand-by for Mall move”. As the final section marched-off I gave a quick thumbs-up to the Metropolitan Police section commander and the security supervisor. I provided my final words of encouragement to the men and women behind me, “Take it all in, ladies and gentlemen. Smile and enjoy it – it genuinely is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I lost all sense of time, but was very aware of the humbling and uplifting outpouring of appreciation at every step of that half-mile walk. The rapturous cheering and furious flag-waving of the thousands-strong crowd was spine-tingling and reached a mighty crescendo as we neared Buckingham Palace. I slowed the pace to savour one last moment and halted in front of the Queen Victoria Memorial, bursting with pride in the overwhelming emotion of the day. The Parade was taking shape on the forecourt of the Palace and I had just led thousands of people to see it.”

Sqn Ldr Russell-Brookes was accompanied by Halton personnel from across the Station as a thank you for all the work that they put in behind the scenes to deliver a spectacular parade.

#Commemorate #Celebrate #Inspire #RAF100

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