Flypast and royal visit for Rustington home celebrate double anniversary

TWO major anniversaries were marked by a royal visitor to a garden party and a flypast by a vintage aircraft at Rustington.

The Duke of Kent was special guest at the garden party, thrown to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Princess Marina House, and the 90th anniversary of the RAF Benevolent Fund, which runs the seafront home and respite centre for serving and former members of the RAF.

Described by the charity as its "flagship resort", Princess Marina House has close links with the Duke. The home was named after his mother and he has attended numerous special events there over the years.

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During last Wednesday's (September 9) visit the Duke met residents, cut a 40th anniversary cake, and sat down to lunch with Princess Marina House's manager Shirley Steeples and trustees to discuss the changing demands on the home and its future at the forefront of respite accommodation provided by the charity.

Douglas Dakota tribute

More than 140 guests, including serving and former members of the RAF, Susan Pyper, Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Littlehampton mayor Mark Butler, RAF Benevolent Fund staff, residents and friends of the home, joined the Duke in toasting the 40 year milestone, and in looking forward to many more years of quality care for RAF "family" members.

There was also an opportunity to look round the home and see improvements such as a new internet cafe which have been funded by appeals.

Necks were craned when a Douglas Dakota aircraft flew over the home as a tribute to its four decades of service.

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Sir Robert Wright, controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "Seeing so many local people and serving personnel in attendance reflects the unique bonds the resort shares with the Sussex community and the Royal Air Force family as a whole.

"I'd especially like to express our gratitude to the Duke, who has been such a staunch supporter of Princess Marina House for so many years, and has always taken a close interest in our staff and guests."

Mrs Steeples thanked all who attended "for helping us to mark this very special anniversary year".


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