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                                             Royal Air Force Centenary 1918 – 2018

The Hartlepool Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association marked the Royal Air Force Centenary in style on the 8th April with a celebratory service in St Aidan’s Church led by Mother Gemma

Sampson . Invited guests included His Worship , the Mayor Of Hartlepool Councillor Paul Beck and Mrs Beck and Mr Mike Hill MP who were escorted to their seats by the Chairman of the Branch David Stacey and Branch President Norman Sterling before the service began with a church procession which included Standard Bearers from local veterans organisation led by the Hartlepool RAFA Standard carried by the Branch Secretary Ian Fraser . In keeping with the occasion Royal Air Force blue was very much on parade thanks to the smart turn-out by cadets from 473 (Hartlepool) Squadron Air Training Corps who were led by their Commanding Officer Flying Officer Deborah Fairbotham and who also paraded their own Squadron Standard which was carried by Sergeant Rebekah Kadhim . 

Mother Gemma , invited guests , veterans and members of the congregation gather around the alter following the Royal Air Force Celebratory Service in St Aidan’s Church
Cadet Sergeant Rebekah Kadhim holding the air cadet standard in front of the Harry Bolton window in the Requiem Chapel of St Aidan’s Church . A Hartlepool born RAF fighter pilot and mentioned by Mother Gemma during her sermon , Harry was shot down and killed on the 31 August 1940 whilst flying a Hawker Hurricane with 79 Squadron from his base at Biggin Hill . The eldest child of Herbert and Margaret Bolton the family lived in Park Road and then at 14 Eldon Grove and were regular worshippers at St Aidan’s and donated the window in memory of Harry who is buried in Stranton Cemetery . The window has a dedication to Harry as well as his squadron crest and is a loving reminder of one of The Few , one of Hartlepool’s Few