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Westminster Abbey celebrates the centenary of the RAF

Tuesday, 10th July 2018

Westminster Abbey celebrates the centenary of the RAF

Her Majesty The Queen attended A Service to mark the Centenary of the Royal Air Force at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 10th July 2018.

Her Majesty was accompanied by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, HRH The Duke of York, TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex, HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, HRH The Duke of Kent, TRH Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and HRH Princess Alexandra, the Hon. Lady Ogilvy.

The service was led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding:

Easter Day this year, 1st April, marked one hundred years precisely since the foundation of the Royal Air Force. Celebrations took place at St Clement Danes, the RAF Church. On this day, one hundred days later, our celebration of the centenary continues, where in 1965, at the Battle of Britain service, Her Majesty The Queen unveiled a memorial to Winston Churchill, and where annually we mark the great victory of the Royal Air Force in 1940 and honour those who gave their service and their lives.
The roll call of service and lives given is far greater now but the dedication and commitment no less. We have in mind not only the fighter pilots and crews but those who flew on bombing sorties, on reconnaissance, on life-saving and humanitarian missions, and that vast number of men and women whose active support was indispensable.
So we shall pray today for the RAF in its continuing service and its vital contribution to the defence of the realm and of our allies, to the peace of the world, for its continuing resilience and resourcefulness.

The Address was given by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan.

Air Commodore Mark Hunt read from The Birth of the Royal Air Force by Richard Overy, and Wing Commander Nikki Thomas read the High Flight by John Gillespie Magee Jr.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC ADC, Chief of the Air Staff read Isaiah 40: 25-31, and the Right Honourable Theresa May MP, Prime Minister, read Hebrews 11: 32-12:2.

During the service, the RAF Ensign was paraded through the Abbey and placed on the High Altar by the Dean.

Prayers were said by Squadron leader Joan Ochuodho, RAF Benson; Officer Cadet David Taylor, Air Force College Cranwell; and The Reverend Professor Vernon White, Canon in Residence.

The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist, and before the service by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist.

An anthem commissioned by the Dean and Chapter for the service was composed by Jonathan Dove.


Order of Service for A Service to mark the Centenary of the Royal Air Force (PDF, 670KB)

Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon at RAF centenary service

I’ve worked here for over thirty years and have seen many of the major services - it’s strange to realise that you are in a small way part of history.

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Pamela - Rector's Secretary

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