Sunday 1st September was a day that the Chairman of The Yorkshire Air Museum, Martin Withers declared ‘the most important date in our Calendar’. Allied Air Forces Memorial Day took on a new direction this year as the Museum revealed it’s fresh direction and purpose.
“To honour, educate and inspire.”
Museum Director Barbara George explained, “On Sunday, I told our guests that we made a commitment 34 years ago to upkeep our site to serve as a memorial to the Allied Air Forces. We now want to reaffirm this commitment through our new mission to Honour, Educate and Inspire. This commitment was embraced by Air Commodore Richard Davie CBE during his address in the Canadian Memorial Hangar. “
Over 150 parade participants, over 100 VIP guests and numerous visitors enjoyed a tremendous day blessed even by Yorkshire sunshine.
Nine nations were represented including Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and for the first time Poland. In addition, we welcomed the Archbishop of York, a Lord Lieutenant, a Deputy Lieutenant, the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and the Sheriff of York as well as the Lord Mayor of York and the President of the Groupes Lourds Association Paul Bogaert.
However, without a doubt, the most important guests we welcomed on the day were by far Doug Petty, Ken Cooke, Sid Metcalfe, Ken Smith (all D-Day veterans), as well as Nancy Patterson (WAAF Veteran) and Barbara Weatherall (ATS Veteran). Their presence was a grounding to us all, reminding us in a tangible way of the incredible contribution of our elders to the freedom we hold so dear.
The Museum aims to make the Allied Air Forces Memorial the centre point of a fresh initiative to engage new audiences and reach out to inspire and educate people young and old whilst at the same time honouring the sacrifice of those members of our air forces that have served to bring peace to the world.
We have a lot of work to undertake in our new initiative and we hope you will join us in our quest, wherever you may be in the world.
Barbara continued, “It is easy to set out a new path, of course. But we now need to get to work hard to achieve our goals. Only through the power of education and learning will we manage to fulfil our mission. This means that, during our journey, we will need to reach out to new audiences who have perhaps never considered the importance of history in the future of the world. The projects we will be embarking on over the next few years will support our ambition.”
The support of our visitors will mean everything to us as we embark upon this ambitious path. On days like Sunday, we are reminded of the veterans who are still able to be with us and also the incredibly diverse range of nationalities who came together to be with us here in Yorkshire on this very special occasion.
Below are a selection of photographs from the day. If you could not be with us, we hope you will enjoy the sheer diversity of nations that joined us, a true testament to the spirit of alliance and collaboration that still endures even in the extraordinary times in 2019