Have we seen the last of the Red Arrows?

THE Red Arrows could have made their final appearance in North Devon. Newly-appointed Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey was among the crowds of people watching a specially-arranged fly past in Barnstaple. But the North Devon MP said he could give no assu

THE Red Arrows could have made their final appearance in North Devon.

Newly-appointed Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey was among the crowds of people watching a specially-arranged fly past in Barnstaple.

But the North Devon MP said he could give no assurances about their future.

Speaking to the Gazette on the roof of the Civic Centre following the fly past on Wednesday lunchtime, Mr Harvey said that funding for the RAF's acrobatic display team was at "no more or less risk" than any other department


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"The simple answer is I don't know," Mr Harvey told the Gazette.

"Everything is under review as part of the Government's Strategic Defence Review, which probably will not be completed until the autumn."

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Mr Harvey's comments came after Plaid Cymru MP, Jonathan Edwards, called for the Red Arrows to be scrapped.

Mr Edwards, who submitted a Freedom of Information request to discover the display team's running costs, told BBC Wales that he thought the �8.8m annual budget could be put to better use.

Wednesday's fly past was the first time the Red Arrows have flown in North Devon since they put on a display at the GoldCoast Oceanfest in Croyde in 2007.

On Wednesday, people lined Barnstaple's two bridges to catch a glimpse of the 10 Hawk T1 jets soar in formation along the River Taw towards Chivenor.

The aircraft approached the town at speeds of 360 knots, at a height of around 500ft before flying on to perform displays in Minehead and Falmouth later the same day.

The fly past was organised by the North Devon branch of the Royal Air Force Association to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and promote the association's annual Wings Appeal.

Branch chairman, Roy Lucas, said: "I'm so pleased to see the Red Arrows come back to North Devon and support our Wings Appeal.

"By the number of people we saw on the bridges, I'm sure people in North Devon support the Red Arrows as the showpiece of the RAF."

Members of the association held street collections in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Lynton and further collections will take place in Lynmouth and South Molton on September 16 and in Braunton and Bideford on September 18.

The Veterans' section of Ilfracombe Golf Club is holding a Wings day and Air Training Corps cadets will be doing a sponsored walk.

Other events to raise money for the cause include a Brew for the Few tea morning at Braunton Village Hall on Saturday, August 21 and a garden party in September.

All association members and ex-RAF personnel are being invited to a social evening next Wednesday at the Ex-Servicemen's Club in St George's Road, Barnstaple, from 7.45pm.

Association members wishing to take part in the events should contact chairman, Roy Lucas, on (01271) 816081 or vice-chairman Tony Ley on (01271) 814395.

 

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