Prayers and songs at the blessing of new RAFA flag

120595-1871 RAF STANDARD (MOL) MRW 19/2/2012''(centre) The Reverend Ann Leonard together with Server Mike Hoad (right) lays the new standard from the Hayling Island Branch of The Royal Air Forces Association on the altar at St Peter's Church North Hayling, after taking it from Standard Bearer Richard Bastable (not in picture) on the left is Terence Russell Chairman of the Hayling Island Branch of the RAFA ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (120595B-1871)
120595-1871 RAF STANDARD (MOL) MRW 19/2/2012''(centre) The Reverend Ann Leonard together with Server Mike Hoad (right) lays the new standard from the Hayling Island Branch of The Royal Air Forces Association on the altar at St Peter's Church North Hayling, after taking it from Standard Bearer Richard Bastable (not in picture) on the left is Terence Russell Chairman of the Hayling Island Branch of the RAFA ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (120595B-1871)
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THE mayor of Havant is a proud RAF veteran.

But Councillor Ken Smith admits he was a bit embarrassed to be carrying the rather tatty standard of the Hayling RAF Association at a recent commemoration of the Battle of Britain at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Cllr Smith vowed to raise enough money to replace it and yesterday a new standard was dedicated in a moving service at St Peter’s Church, Hayling.

Members of the church and Hayling RAF Association filled the church yesterday morning.

Praise My Soul The Kingdom of Heaven was sung as the existing flag was brought into the church and laid on the altar.

A prayer was then led by the Rev Ann Leonard before the new flag was draped beside it.

Cllr Smith, who led a reading from the Bible during the service, spent 13 years in the RAF, starting as an apprentice aged just 16.

He said: ‘There were 2,000 boys in the apprentice school and 180 of us were offered jobs at the end.

‘Of those 180 I’m still in touch with 90 of them which I think is good going.

‘The RAF set me up for life and I feel very proud of my time in the RAF.

‘The RAF Association was set up to help veterans and provide comradeship after they have left.

‘Every unit has their own colour standard and Hayling’s was very old and a tatty.

‘I decided they needed a new one and being Mayor it was an opportunity to do that.

‘It was a great pleasure to be at the service.

‘It’s wonderful to have seen all the community together.’

Cllr Smith managed to raise £800 to replace the standard through the charity he set up to help local good causes.

The old standard, which was 60 years old, will hang on display with two other previous Hayling RAF standards at the church.

Visitors sang the first verse of the national anthem before the new flag was led out of the church.

Terence Russell, chairman of the Hayling RAF Association, said: ‘This was a wonderful occasion.

‘I will feel proud to take our new standard to conferences with other branches of the RAF associations.’