RAF St Mawgan have hosted what is likely to be the largest gathering of veterans for a Christmas lunch, anywhere across the South-West, for the festive season. 

Over 60 veterans from across the Duchy and all three services have been waited on by 30 Service Personnel and Civil Servants based at RAF St Mawgan at a festive get-together, in appreciation for their commitment to Service life, cementing the Station’s place in the local community.

The event, which was funded by the RAF Benevolent Fund, RAFA St Mawgan branch, RBL St Columb branch, SSAFA and the Station’s Combined Mess was delivered with all the trimmings.

The icing on the Christmas cake was the RAF St Mawgan Military Wives Choir, who beautifully sang many Christmas favourites, getting the guests involved and spreading some festive cheer.

Guests were able to chat with the current Station personnel and enjoyed swapping stories of Service life over the decades. 

Rachel Matthews who sings in the Choir and is the Vetting Clerk for St Mawgan said; “Singing really brings the community together and it's so nice to be able to give something back to our veterans”. 

For much of its 80-year history, RAF St Mawgan has been a base for Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which has seen it involved with almost all conflicts that have taken place during that time.

Many of the guests who attended the lunch had served in places such as Aden, the Falklands, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Germany and Northern Ireland to name a few. 

Phil Herbert was an Armourer in Afghanistan and appeared on the ‘Untold Stories’ documentary, developed by RAF St Mawgan personnel and released on the RAF YouTube channel during November.

He said; “This has been such a great experience and it’s lovely that all the veterans who told their stories for the documentary could be here today.

"Talking through my experiences in Afghanistan has really helped me get back in the fold of life, and I know that other people who have seen the documentary feel more empowered to talk through their struggles”. 

Iain Henderson who is the chairman of The Veterans’ Charity said; “It’s great to see so many organisations and charities coming together to support events like this. Hopefully we’ll be able to run more events in the New Year as this has been such a success”. 

Cornwall has one of the largest populations of veterans anywhere in the UK, with one in five people directly related to some who is serving or has served in the Armed Forces.

With RAF St Mawgan being the only RAF Base in the South West, the team are always busy maintaining those important links with the community.

Air Commadore Polly Perkins who is the Air Officer representing the RAF in the South West, and who headed up this years Armed Forces Day National Event in Falmouth said: “Cornwall has such a strong community of veterans, it is wonderful that RAF St Mawgan is able to embody the Christmas spirit and host this event for veterans of all three services."

As the meal concluded with a healthy portion of Christmas pud the guests heard from the Station Commander, Wing Commander Helen Simpson, who reflected on the importance of the day; “Our veterans are the bastion of our ethos and holders of the story of RAF St Mawgan and of wider defence, and so events like these are so important to maintain our strong links across the community”. 

Tara Stiles who organised the event said; “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to host so many guests.

"Thanks to the generosity of our local service charities, we have been able to bring together a wide range of veterans and RAF widows at a time which, whilst for many is a celebratory season, for some is particularly difficult.

"We hope that we have managed to lessen the feelings of social isolation and loneliness which too many of the wider Service family can often experience at Christmas."