386.End of Season High

Our final (20th) event of the season has been at Cheltenham racecourse, where the final day of their three-day event was to commemorate the 100 year Armistice.

I’d never been there before, but there is a family connection; Grandad and his father and an uncle all attended Cheltenham College.

The parade ground was filled with soldiers, sailors and airmen who marched in accompanied by a military wind band for a short service of commemoration and a one-minute silence.

Meanwhile on a covered area overlooking the ring we were placed alongside a motor ambulance and Rolls Royce armoured car, with a field hospital inside.

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The beautiful Rolls Royce Armoured Car. Built on an original Rolls Royce chassis, it looked as if the superstructure (one hesitates to call it ‘bodywork’) was built from scratch. there is a connection with 1264, since these served with the RNAS at Gallipoli at the same time as her.

We arrived on the Saturday night and had to wait a while until the merry crowds had dissipated after their post-race celebrations had finished, before we could get access and rig, so that we were ready for the Sunday morning. we stayed overnight in the jockey’s accommodation which was basic but adequate; the rooms could take up to four people, but we splashed out and had two rooms!

P1120818.jpgAs usual, we were busy from the moment we manned the display, and we were very grateful for the free coffees Sue managed to blag from the Costa shop adjacent.

After the commemoration we were treated to a display by the Great War Display team, which we heard but barely saw since it was on the far side of the grandstand.

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Visitors watching the Great War Display Team display, with the camera shots being displayed on the large screen in the background.

The commentary was by Ben Dunnell, editor of Aeroplane Monthly magazine, and apparently he suffered from the same problem; the overhanging roof in front of his room entirely obscured his view!

Of the many visitors we had today, the highest profile were the Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, both of whom showed an intelligent interest in the project. I was at school with Vice Admiral Lawrence a very long time ago and his family had one of our Jack Russell puppies, so I was able to catch up on a bit of  family news as well.

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Theo talking to Vice Adm. Lawrence and the Princess Royal looking in the cockpit

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This photograph by James Witchell is rather special, since it includes Sue as well.

There was coverage on ITV here. we get  short, but very accurate mention 2 minutes 13 into what was a live broadcast.

And don’t forget that  the documentary is being broadcast on PBS America (Freeview channel 94) tomorrow night at 2100. Here’s a link to their trailer on Twitter.

So, it’s been a very exhausting, very satisfactory season that we will remember for a very long time.

Next week, the hard work really  starts, as we strip out the engine and the petrol tank, ready to start the recovering process for next year’s season…

 

 

 

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