THIS WEEK IN 1976: Thorney Island commendations ceremony tinged with sadness

Pictured with air chief marshal are, left to right, WO Ireland, chief technician Pritchard, Sgt Cherry and Mr Whitworth

Thorney Island sprang into its old routine but the occasion was tinged with sadness.

Airmen looked on as an RAF helicopter landed on the main runway, bringing Air Chief Marshal Sir Denis Smallwood to the station to present four men with commendations.

‘This was the final scheduled landing of an aircraft at Thorney so we witnessed another stage in the station’s shut-down,’ a spokesman said.

Certificates of commendation were presented to three airmen and one civilian.

The four men were warrant officer Charles Ireland, deputy engineering officer; chief technician Leslie Pritchard, an aircraft servicer, RAF policeman Sergeant Ivor Cherry, and Alexander Barrow Whitworth, a clerical officer.

Mr Whitworth, who had started work at Thorney Island 25 years earlier, said: ‘I suppose I was one of the longest-serving members of the civilian staff, and it was a sad day for me when I retired last year.’

The Air Chief Marshall completed a short farewell tour of the base and then it was back to the runway for the party to watch the helicopter take off for the last time.

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