Appeal for help to secure future of Holbeach RAFA

Frank Sauntson, Holbeach RAFA branch president
Frank Sauntson, Holbeach RAFA branch president
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The future of Holbeach RAFA (Royal Air Forces Association) branch is in doubt after a decision by both its chairman and secretary to stand down.

A potentially decisive annual general meeting of the association, at Holbeach United Services Club, Church Street, Holbeach, on Tuesday, March 8 at 7.30pm, could go a long way in determining whether the branch can continue or not.

RAFA looks after the families when husbands and wives are abroad so it’s a very important thing

Frank Sauntson, Holbeach RAFA branch president

Both chairman Bernard Storey and its secretary, retired Squadron Leader Christa Lawrence, announced their decisions not to stand again, leaving Holbeach RAFA urgently needing new people to take their places.

Frank Sauntson, Holbeach RAFA branch president, said: “The constitution of RAFA states that we must have a chairman, secretary and treasurer to run the branch.

“But none of the younger generation of the RAF have joined the RAFA which is most concerning because this organisation provides for, and looks after, the relatives of those who have been killed in action.

“At the same time, the RAFA looks after the families when husbands and wives are abroad so it’s a very important thing.”

Holbeach RAFA was formed at least 70 years ago as a direct link to servicemen and women at the former RAF Holbeach when it was an air gunnery and bombing range known as Holbeach March Range.

The association meets once every two months and, in recent years, it has established strong links with cadets at Holbeach Air Training Corps (ATC) and fundraising events at the Anglia Motel, Fleet.

Mr Storey said: “We still have about 40 members and we’re able to have associate members as well who are allowed to take on posts in the association.

“But like a lot of Armed Forces groups, including the Royal British Legion, everybody gets older and so we have less and less people who are doing things.

“We still have a part-time welfare officer and we also combine a little bit with Holbeach ATC, having just given it a donation of £500 for its new drums and bugle band.”

Mr Sauntson added: “I’m sure that with Holbeach being an area which has an air weapons and bombing range, there must be a lot of people in the RAF who live in the area.

“You don’t have to be a member of the RAFA to be chairman or secretary

“It’d be a sad thing if Holbeach RAFA had to close and so I’m trying to keep it going.”

Award for dedicated Holbeach RAFA service