RAF veterans and senior citizens invited to Christmas lunch at Wittering station

Margaret Haverfield
Margaret Haverfield
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Two 96-year-old RAF veterans attended the Royal Air Force Wittering Christmas lunch for senior citizens held at the historic station.

The lunch is a regular feature in the calendar of many RAF stations. Dozens of senior citizens from towns and villages near to RAF Wittering made their way to the dining hall of the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess for roast turkey with all the trimmings.

Wing Commander Maggie Boyle with two of the guests

Wing Commander Maggie Boyle with two of the guests

Returning to RAF Wittering was 96-year-old former RAF Warrant Officer Bert Salvage, who had worked at the station during the V-Bomber era. Another 96-year-old was Margaret Haverfield, who joined the RAF at the age of 16 and served her country between 1941 and 1945.

Mrs Haverfield, of Melton Mowbray, worked in signals and as a telephonist and rose to the rank of sergeant. She said: “It’s wonderful to come back on to a Royal Air Force station again, absolutely wonderful. I only wish I was 16 again.”

Flying Officer Ben Stubbings is the project officer for the Christmas lunch. Ben works in Base Support Squadron and oversees the contract that provides Royal Air Force Wittering’s catering, retail and leisure activities.

He said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for the elderly, particularly if they are lonely or vulnerable. So we reached out to senior citizens who lived nearby and who would benefit from some good food and company.”

Warrant Officer Brian Aitken with Bert Salvage

Warrant Officer Brian Aitken with Bert Salvage

The mess kitchen was extra busy, but the station has a wealth of talented and experienced chefs. The team, led by Corporal Nathan Dancey, prepared some stunning Christmas dinners.

Just before lunch the guests were treated to some tuneful signing from the children of Wittering Primary School. Conducted by their teachers, the children sang with cheerful enthusiasm, starting the afternoon off with a festive buzz.

Fun and games followed lunch with bingo and a raffle with prizes donated by station personnel. Coffee and mince pies were the final treat for the senior citizens before the afternoon was brought to a well-fed and satisfying close.

Wing Commander Maggie Boyle was the senior Royal Air Force officer at the lunch. She said: “We have visitors here who have lived and worked alongside us for many years. It is my privilege to welcome them, on behalf of the Station Commander, to enjoy good food, good company and good cheer at the start of the Christmas period.

Corporal Nathan Dancey.

Corporal Nathan Dancey.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for some. I hope that by bringing this diverse group together here at RAF Wittering we can help to strengthen the ties within our community. This is one of the highlights of the station’s calendar for us, and if the singing and laughter are anything to go by it has once again proved to be a great success.”

The guests enjoying a lighter moment

The guests enjoying a lighter moment