The Royal Air Force will be formally granted the Freedom of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council on Friday 8th April, with a public parade and ceremony in Limavady town centre.
The event’s highlight will be a flypast by a Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. A ceremonial certificate will be presented to the RAF’s joint second-in-command by the Council’s Mayor prior to a parade by 100 RAF personnel in the town centre.
A motion granting the Freedom of the Borough was passed by the Council in 2018 to mark the RAF’s centenary. However, pandemic restrictions and the RAF’s continuing involvement in providing Military Aid to Civil Authorities meant that the formal ceremony could not take place until now.
Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour that a Council can bestow on an organisation or individual. It was granted to the RAF in recognition of “100 years of service, and in acknowledgement of the vital air and ground defence roles which they continue to provide for the security of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre will host an exhibition highlighting Limavady’s RAF heritage. RAF Limavady and nearby RAF Ballykelly were two vitally important bases during the Second World War. Both stations were home to squadrons conducting anti-submarine operations in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Councillor Richard Holmes, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, said:
“The Council is very proud of the Roe Valley’s place in the history of the Royal Air Force and the upcoming Freedom ceremony will allow us to give this formal recognition. It will be a day to reflect on the RAF’s significant connections to our Borough, especially during World War II, while also celebrating over a century of exemplary service since it was established in 1918. I am looking forward to a very special occasion in Limavady, with the planned flypast and parade around the town set to create a wonderful public spectacle as we grant Council’s highest civic honour.”
Air Marshal Sir Gerry Mayhew, Deputy Commander Operations, Royal Air Force, said:
“The Royal Air Force is honoured to be have been granted the Freedom of the Borough in recognition of its continued role in the world, and to mark our long association with Limavady and the wider Borough.
“The stations around Limavady were key to protecting the seas during the Battle of the Atlantic and so the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft that will fly over the town will provide an appropriate link between Limavady’s contribution then and the RAF’s present-day role in defending the North Atlantic.”
The public event will start at 12:05pm at Drumceatt Square, outside Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.
There will also be a short service at the War Memorial in Limavady, and veterans are invited to attend by the Roe Valley branch of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA), assembling by 12.30pm.
Members of the public and motorists should expect some traffic disruption in Limavady on the day, including restricted parking on Catherine Street. Disruption will be kept to a minimum throughout proceedings.