Potted History of the RAFLAA

In 1990 - 91, I had become involved with the RAF Cranwell Apprentices Association and was aware of their policy that only Cranwell apprentices could belong.  Through them, I was also aware that Joe Holroyd had asked if he might join and he was recommended to consider starting his own association for Locking ‘Apps’.  We got in touch to discuss what we might do and as a result I arranged a meeting of like-minded people with the aim of forming a committee.  Some were Service personnel, another was a civilian instructor and a one a local civilian.  We met one afternoon in March `93.  Decisions were made concerning what we might do immediately;  Joe agreed to write to Air Cdre Martin Palmer to ask him to be our president, we ran a social dinner dance in Weston; apportioned responsibilities for the committee and arranged an inaugural general meeting at RAF Locking at the annual June `Flowerdown Fair’ (FF93) Red Arrows et al with 70 000 people attending during the course of the day.

 Joe had before and after the committee meeting advertised the intention of forming the association throughout the Service and had a large list of interested people.  In the event the inaugural general meeting on the 19th June 1993 saw around 70 ex-apprentices lining up in the afternoon each with a £10 note in their hands ready to pass it over for the privilege of having their name placed on a list; quite remarkable!

We now had an Association with members; we had cash; a bank account opened on the basis of the minutes of the first committee meeting; a sort of Constitution that looked remarkably like the Cranwell one and had a`voted in’ committee.  

Joe Holroyd was the first Chairman, I was the Secretary, George Ring, our civilian member and organiser of the dinner dance earlier that year, was the treasurer, Neil Castle was the membership secretary. Other members offered support but it was decided that for the moment there were sufficient members on the committee to keep things running initially

We were up and running and managed to get the first newsletter out by about mid-September.  This went out to members with a wheel – we bought 200 from the London Button Co; a copy of the constitution and a letter of welcome from Joe – a sort of joining package.

At the Second full committee meeting additional members were added to the committee, B. Cumming (AA rep), J. Hall (RAF Locking liaison), J. Leaper (Craft rep) and A. Perkins (Tech rep), D. Cornford (Service rep), D Rees (Newsletter) and D. Read as general member. The O/C RAF Locking was invited to become Honorary Vice President of the Association.

Since those early days there have been many changes of committee. Major changes have included:

In 1994:  D. Rees Left and was replaced by P. Crowe.

In 1996: G. Price joined the committee. M. West took over as membership secretary and  

C. Horn as editor of the newsletter.

In 1997:  T .Horry took over as Treasurer and G. Burville joined as ‘communications’ member.

In 1999: B. Davies took over as Chairman, G. Price as Secretary and G. Beeston as Craft rep.

 C. Ingram took over as newsletter editor.

In 2000 J. Farmer took over as membership secretary and I became the AA rep.

In 2002 H. Kuhle took over as Chairman and D. Gunby took over as Secretary.

There have been other ‘movements’ within the committee,  J. Holroyd is now service rep. V.  Gibbs is now our general member. G.  Burville passed away in 2001 and the post of communications member has not been refilled. G. Beeston, in addition to his other duties,  assumed  responsibility for printing and distributing hard copies of the Newsletter and acting as webmaster for the Associations own website; whilst A. Perkins is  responsible for the distribution of Association ties.

Since the inception of the Association we have signed up over 600 members of which around 400 have remained as active members.

The association has also:

Produce 4 newsletters a year for nearly eleven years.

Presented a Trophy annually to a serving member of the RAF for `excellence’ in assistance to Technical Training in (Electronics).

Produced 3 videos of apprentice life.

Funded a commemoration display in the RAFA Flowerdown House convalescent home in Weston.

Been the ‘source’ of  the APPBE website (more of that below).

Taken part in and produced a video of the last ‘Freedom of Weston’ Parade.

Provided and maintained a display cabinet for Apprentice memorabilia in the RAFA Club, Weston.

Held an annual AGM and reunion and meeting with an evening social event  in Weston and lately in alternate years at other (Service) venues.

Occasionally held mid year social events in Weston-super-Mare (to feed the nostalgia).

Kept a watching brief on the RAF Locking site with a view to ensuring that a suitable ‘memorial’ to RAF Apprentice training is erected on the site at some time in the future.

Started its own Web site.

The Association was instrumental (through George Burville) in the setting up of the APPBE website. Unfortunately when George passed away he took with him the passwords to access to the site. His brother-in law has taken over the site but has had great difficulty in getting into certain parts of the site. This has resulted in some of the information displayed being somewhat old. The site is still operating and is well utilised. George’s legacy lives on!

Because of the problems associated with the APPBE website the decision was taken to open a website dedicated to the RAFLAA. It is still in its infancy but we hope it will grow in the same manner that the Association has done.

The Association aims to become a focal point for all ex Apprentices who served part or all of their training at RAF Locking; to locate and to keep in touch with old colleagues, to foster a sense of comradeship and to perhaps swap a few tales of past deeds and misdemeanours over a pint (or two).