A Celebration of Friendship
"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles"
Meeting House Hill, a secluded rural Hamlet annexed to Worstead in Norfolk was the setting for a one off spectacular event on Thursday 29th June 2000.
This event was to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force Coltishall, the Dedication of a plaque and Memorial and the continuing friendship of Worstead Baptist Church and RAF Coltishall. Four Squadrons of Airmen and Women paraded their colours through the street of the Hamlet accompanied by members of The Royal British Legion North Walsham Branch and the choir of The Douglas Bader School Coltishall. (Sir Douglas Bader served as a fighter pilot based at Coltishall in the early years) The parade was led by The Band of Norwich Air Cadets. The Baptist Church, the fourth oldest in Norfolk, holds approx. 500 worshippers and on this day every seat and pew was filled.This Church was in the footprint of RAF Coltishall, in the 2nd Word War pilots after a battle knew they were home safely when they saw the Black shining slates of the Church roof, sadly one did not make it to the airfield and crash landed inbetween the Church and the airfield, fortunately the pilot was rescued (by a Church member who was awarded a bravery medal) before the aeroplane exploded.
This close connection is one of the reasons for the Memorial and Plaque. The Standards were escorted into the Church by the Airmen. The congregation was welcomed by the Minister of the Baptist Church, Revd. David H Fox who explained the reason for this service. After the first hymn "Now thank we all our God" Mrs Elsie Nash OBE Royal British Legion read the Bible from Isaiah ch40 this was followed by a song from the School choir.
The Wing Commander Jon Taylor was invited to unveil and dedicate the Plaque on behalf of all those assembled. The Revd.(Squadron Leader) Jonathan Beach Chaplain RAF Coltishall gave the Sermon and The Revd.Fr.Anthony Long, Anglican Vicar of Worstead led the intercessions, this was a time of sombre quietness but meaningful prayers of thanks and hope for the future which afterwards the congregation gave an exuberant rendition of The National Anthem. The Standards were then returned proudly and paraded from the Church. This special memorable day with the resounding voices of the hymn singing, the noise of marching in the street and the smiling faces of excited children had not been seen or heard before in the small serene hamlet of Meeting House Hill, but now it will be a legacy remembered from generation to generation for many years to come.
During the early months of 2000 a Memorial was lovingly built to the rear of the Baptist Church by a Community Service offender, The Memorial was built of local stone and rocks from around the Hamlet, a time capsule was placed into the centre of the memorial. After the plaque had been secured to the memorial it was unveiled and dedicated on the following Sunday 2nd July by the Station Commander Group Captain Chris N Harper RAF Coltishall and in attendance was The RAF Chaplain Revd.(Squadron Leader)Jonathan Beach - Coltishall’s SWO "Ginge" - The Minister of The Baptist Church Revd David H Fox, Father Peter Marsh Vicar of North Walsham Roman Catholic Church and members of the Baptist Church and village.
Revd. David H Fox (ret)
For history of RAF Coltishall read ‘RAF Coltishall:Fighter Station’ by Mick Jennings MBE
1 - Community Service offender constructing the Monument
2 - Coltishall Officers on way to Celebration Service
3 - RAF Parade through Meeting House Hill
4 - The RAF Standards about to enter the Church
5 - Congregation at Celebration Service
6 - Revd. David Fox welcoming the congregation
7 - Douglas Bader School Choir - RAF Coltishall
8 - Wing Commander Jon Taylor - dedication of the Plaque
9 - David, SWO 'Ginge' Padre RAF Coltishall
10 - The RAF On Parade in Meeting House Hill