Unveiling a stunning new building and smart new badges around the base of the National Memorial to the Few helped the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust mark the 25th anniversary of the Memorial in style.
The double ceremony, which marked 25 years since Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother flew in to unveil the Memorial in July 1993, was also one of the ways in which the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust’s is contributing to this year’s 100th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force.
The Trust has converted the former visitor centre, Hunting Lodge, into a library and resource centre after major building work. It was re-opened in its new role by former Chief of the Air Staff and Immediate Past President of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, Sir Michael Graydon GCB CBE.
Also at the ceremony was Annabelle MacWhannell, née Hunting, who was seven when she was photographed presenting a posy to HRH The Queen Mother in 1993.
Annabelle is a granddaughter of the late Clive and Shelagh Hunting, who funded the building of Hunting Lodge. Clive is a cousin of current chairman Richard Hunting CBE, who has continued the family’s generous support for the Trust and its work.
After declaring Hunting Lodge open, Sir Michael and the rest of the guests moved down to the Memorial, where Gordon Newton of the Stone Shop has created new badges, carved from black granite to echo the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall.
After spending 25 years soaking up the salt spray from the Channel at the foot of the White Cliffs on which it stands, the original squadron badges engraved on the Memorial had been rapidly wearing away.
“The badges were looking particularly worse for wear and the Trust felt that renewing them would be a suitable way to mark the 25th anniversary and highlight our commitment to remembering ‘the Few’ well into the future,” said Richard Hunting.
The new badges were blessed by AVM The Venerable Ray Pentland CB, the Trust’s Honorary Chaplain, after being unveiled by local ATC members who had hidden the badges under a parachute before revealing them to the assembled guests.
Hunting Lodge the site’s visitor centre before the opening of The Wing in 2015, will be available on request to academics, researchers and others who wish to access the Trust’s extensive library of Battle of Britain-themed material. The redesign of the building was carried out by Folkestone architectural practice Godden Allen Lawn.