THE Carrickfergus Branch of the RAF Association met for its Annual Dinner on Friday 21 February in the Carrickfergus Golf Club.
The Branch has, yet again, and for the eleventh year running, secured the ‘Top Branch in UK’ award.
Principal guests at the event were the Deputy Lieutenant of County Antrim, Mrs Jacqueline Stewart MBE DL, accompanied by her husband Mr Mike Stewart.
The occasion was an opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie the Branch generates whilst celebrating its £30,000 collection raised during the Wings Appeal 2019 Campaign.
In her address prior to proposing a toast to the RAF Association, the Deputy Lieutenant said: “I am delighted to be here representing Her Majesty the Queen and our Lord Lieutenant David McCorkell, not just in that role but as a supporter of ex-servicemen and women and in particular the Carrickfergus Branch of RAFA.
“I am very proud of the successes this branch continues to achieve on behalf of the Association and I truly appreciate the tremendous work your Welfare Team carries out in supporting the needy in times of difficulty.”
She added: “Of course during my time as Principal of Downshire School I had a special relationship with you when your Chairman arranged to bring the RAF Central Band and the RAF Regiment Band to Carrickfergus; it was my pleasure to make my school available to facilitate those wonderful evenings of musical entertainment, especially when the Director of Music was none other than former Downshire pupil, Flight Lieutenant (now Squadron Leader) Richard Murray.
“It was even more gratifying that on each occasion you raised circa £3,000 for your welfare work.”
Branch President, Maureen Irwin MBE, said: “We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated band of collectors who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that our Wings Appeal activities are so profitable, but we are so thankful to the people in our catchment area, from Whitehead to Newtownabbey, for their generosity when they contribute at our stalls.”
Wings Appeal Organiser and Branch Chairman, Wing Commander Noel Williams, said: “As well as working very hard during the Wings Appeal Campaign our members also enjoy our great social programme and our monthly meetings.
“We are also very appreciative of those, such as Jacqueline Stewart, who over a number of years have been especially supportive of us.
“It was therefore an absolute delight to have her join us for our Annual Dinner and for what was her very first appointment in her capacity as Deputy Lieutenant of County Antrim.
“It would be remiss of us not to mention the excellent facilities in the Carrickfergus Golf Club and to thank the Club Council for allowing us to hold our monthly meetings, as well as the greater part of our social programme, in the Clubhouse.
“It was also great to ‘let our hair down’ at another splendid dinner where we celebrated our success.
“Our members are incredibly supportive and we also enjoy the companionship our Association gives us.
“Perhaps I could use this occasion to ask any ex-servicemen and women who would enjoy our regular meetings, and the company they engender, to call me on 07739 191958 and I will introduce them to our next available meeting, or simply come along on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 in the Golf Club, Carrickfergus.”