Last Sunday I attended once again the annual Battle of Britain service at St Stephen’s Church in Lympne. This year marks the 79th anniversary of that epic struggle between the RAF and the German air force above the skies of Kent, when the fate of western Europe hung by a thread. Defeat would have given the Nazis air superiority over the English Channel and the opportunity to attack Britain’s defenceless cities. It would also have facilitated an invasion of our country in 1940. The fact that an initially numerically inferior Royal Air Force won through is a testament to so many timeless qualities; dogged determination to fight a known evil, personal courage in the face of adversity, the technical superiority of our Spitfire and Hurricane planes and the mastery of tactics by Fighter Command. Even though many years have passed, and fewer and fewer people have personal memories of this conflict, it is important, particularly in our corner of England, that we remember the Battle of Britain in its own right.
I would like to thank the Hythe and Romney Marsh branch of the Royal Air Force Association, and in particular their Chairman Bob Spinner and Treasurer Alison Patridge, for organising the memorial service. It was great to see an excellent turn out of air cadets, as well as the flag bearers who provided the guard of honour. The service at Lympne always seems particularly poignant to me given its proximity to the former aerodrome in the village, which played an active part in the battle. Port Lympne was also used to provide accommodation for air officers from Czechoslovakia who were supporting the Allied war effort. However, there were also other services at Folkestone and Capel le Ferne to mark this anniversary. I was also interested to learn as well about plans for a new memorial at Dungeness to remember pilots who lost their lives over the sea and in that corner of Romney Marsh during the Second World War.
Another place for quiet reflection on the Marsh is the sculpture park created and curated by Briony Kapoor and the IMOS Foundation, around the former parish church of Hope, near New Romney. The church was consecrated in the twelfth century but has been a ruin for hundreds of years and the village that it once served is also long departed. The sculptures commemorate the relationship between the armed forces and Romney Marsh, as well as the lives of local Saints and others whose work has provided a source of inspiration to people of all faiths. The church and sculpture park are open to the public but should be viewed on appointment through the IMOS Foundation. You can find out more information from the website imosfoundation.org
Folkestone and Hythe District Council has announced that our town centres will benefit from a £3m investment from the High Streets Fund. This fund will support restoration works to properties and master planning for the future of our local high streets. Businesses who would like more information about this, including how to apply for support, can find it at the website folkestone.works