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Crowds watch the annual Battle of Britain parade in Dereham

Dereham Battle of Britain memorial parade. Picture: Kitty Lynn

Dereham Battle of Britain memorial parade. Picture: Kitty Lynn

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Hundreds of people gathered for the annual Battle of Britain memorial parade and church service in Dereham town centre.

Squadron Leader Mike Alden inspects the cadets before the parade. Pictures: David BaleSquadron Leader Mike Alden inspects the cadets before the parade. Pictures: David Bale

It was organised by the Dereham and Swaffham branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) in honour of servicemen and women, including The Few - the pilots who defended Britain against the Luftwaffe in the air battles of 1940.

This year was especially poignant as it also marked the centenary of the RAF, and the event included a formal inspection of 1249 (Dereham) Squadron cadets. Flight Lieutenant Tracey Allan, the squadron’s commanding officer, said about 120 cadets took part.

Mike Alden, squadron leader at RAF Marham, who inspected the cadets, said: “It’s lovely to see so many people turning out for the event. Of course it’s the centenary of the RAF this year, which adds an extra element.

“Dereham is very inclusive in recognising the Battle of Britain as most areas seem to just focus on the Armistice.

Dereham Battle of Britain parade. Pictures: David BaleDereham Battle of Britain parade. Pictures: David Bale

“As a community, Dereham is extremely inclusive, and brings a real community spirit to the event. Every time I leave Dereham I say what a nice place it is for a visit.”

About 15 veterans attended including Peter Clay, RAFA president of the Dereham and Swaffham branch.

He served in the RAF for 25 years including stints in Cyprus, Aden, Singapore and Vietnam.

The 77-year-old, who lives in Dereham, said: “It’s nice to see so many young cadets. We need young blood.”

The cadets line up for the inspection. Pictures: David BaleThe cadets line up for the inspection. Pictures: David Bale

Members of the Dereham and Swaffham RAFA were joined in the parade by representatives of the Royal British Legion, and cadets from other groups across the region, and it was led by the Dereham Band.

Parade commander Flight Sergeant Stefan Poole said: “It was really good, and there was quite a good turn-out. The public were spread around the town watching and cheering on the parade.”

Dereham mayor Hilary Bushell said: “It’s a very special occasion and an opportunity for all the young cadets to parade in front of us. They are a very impressive group and very polite. Being a cadet is a great way to learn discipline.”

Peter Clay, RAFA president Dereham and Swaffham branch. Pictures: David BalePeter Clay, RAFA president Dereham and Swaffham branch. Pictures: David Bale

Dereham Battle of Britain memorial parade and service. Pictures: Kitty LynnDereham Battle of Britain memorial parade and service. Pictures: Kitty Lynn

Dereham Battle of Britain memorial parade and service. Pictures: Kitty LynnDereham Battle of Britain memorial parade and service. Pictures: Kitty Lynn

Dereham Battle of Britain memorial parade and service. Pictures: Kitty LynnDereham Battle of Britain memorial parade and service. Pictures: Kitty Lynn

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