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Inspiring gathering

Battle of Britain commemorations and wreath-laying

At 11.00am on Sunday, 10 September, at Thames Airfield a very special Commemoration of the Battle of Britain was held. Of all the commemoration services held across New Zealand every year to commemorate the Battle of Britain, the one at Thames is perhaps the most significant.

The reason is the person who enabled the RAF to defeat the Luftwaffe (German Airforce) in the Battle of Britain was born In Thames, New Zealand. - Sir Keith Park.

A replica of his fighter plane is there poised several metres above the ground at Thames Airport. A 3.3 metre bronze statue of Sir Keith Park has been commissioned and the progress on this magnificent bronze sculpture was on display on Sunday in the airfield club rooms and the sculptor, Joanne Sullivan was present to enlighten the visitors and dignitaries about the work.

The rain and inclement weather reorganised the service to be in hanger rather than outside near the sir keith park memorial. However, the ceremony and gathering of dignitaries, Airforce personnel, and citizens, local, national and international was no less inspiring and fitting. the Thames Air Cadet stood at attention throughout, some falling casualty to feeling faint but got care form their very young Squadron leader. The Kerepehi Brass Band competently, led the gathering of over 200 in Abide with Me’ and one of their young men played the Last Post and Reveille.

Everyone got something from this very significant event - not a festival, not a party, but a sombre future oriented event, something that is necessary in the cycle of meaning, not to diminish celebrations but actually the reason we can have so many good times is due to the courage and foresight of forebears like Sir Keith Park.

Caption: Chairman of Thames Community Board, Adrian Catran with bust of Sir Keith Park by Joanne Sullivan. Joanne has created a large sculpture of Sir Keith as part of the commemorations.

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