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Horsham’s RAF Association open with flying colours

Martin Read – Reporter

Horsham and Storrington’s Royal Airforce Association’s HQ is a hidden community gem, an oasis based in a building that formed part of the Needles farm, the friendly, cosy club hosting a variety of social activities. On Wednesdays the welcoming members gather for an informal coffee morning and on other days ploughman’s lunches are caringly prepared in the club’s kitchen. On Saturday there is a fish and chip lunch and other regular events include quizzes, bingo and music, featuring a Motown Magic evening on Saturday October 13th. Earlier this year the club hosted a Burns Night Supper and varied other musical entertainment, Secretary John Firkins telling the District Post: “We can seat 40 people comfortably here and it’s great to see the members enjoying themselves together. We’ve got a very well stocked bar, open Sunday lunchtimes and several evenings a week – selling Spitfire beer, of course! And, our prices are very reasonable indeed.” Chairman Tony Latham says: “You do not have to have served in the RAF to join RAFA – we’re pleased to welcome everyone, male or female, young or older who’d like to join us, especially anyone who might be able to volunteer at one of our events, so if you’d like to try your hand at helping with our Wings appeal or have a go at pulling a pint then come along and bring someone from your family, a friend or neighbour to accompany you! If you decide to join you’ll find our full and associate membership fees very modest.”

The RAFA is a countrywide organisation – Horsham & Storrington is Branch Number 665 – contributing towards the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity, supporting current and former members of the RAF, their partners and dependents whenever needed. In 2017 almost £19million was spent to assist more than 55,000 members of the RAF family. More information about the Fund is available at www.rafbf.org, where there is access to the online shop with a comprehensive range of stunning gifts and cards.  

This year is a big one for the RAF, celebrating its centenary and September is the time to remember the Battle of Britain, when Germany repeatedly sought to banish the RAF from our skies and wipe the airfields off the map. The RAFA pays tribute to those who fought for us, succeeding to keep us free from the very real threat of Nazi invasion, especially those who sadly made the ultimate sacrifice. Tony Latham continues: “Much of the action took place over Sussex and the Battle of Britain holds a very special place in our hearts, so we are very pleased to fund raise for the Wings Appeal to help with welfare support for both veterans and serving people. We had our annual parade at the War Memorial in the Carfax last Sunday, followed by the church service in St Mary’s in the Causeway and refreshments back at our HQ.”   The club has many iconic pictures of aircraft activity, together with a collection of related books. Upstairs there is a museum containing RAF memorabilia, including Christ’s Hospital educated Barnes Wallis’s signature – the bar is named after him – and members are free to make full use of the rooms at the club. Residents are invited to drop in to Horsham’s RAFA Club to catch up with the interesting members, who will be delighted to see you – the sign above the entrance is spot on – “Enter as strangers – leave as friends” and you will be off to a flying start!

Horsham & Storrington Royal Air Force Association, Three Acres, Blackbridge Lane, Horsham RH12 1RS – Details accessible on Facebook.

Secretary John Firkins – 01403 242277.  

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