Museum shares RAF Stories through a series of talks

The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford is introducing a series of talks later this year, sharing the inspirational stories of RAF personnel who have played an important role in shaping the service during its first 100 years.

On November 8th, Ayla Holdom will share her RAF story. Photo: Corporal Peter Devine, RAF Photographer
On November 8th, Ayla Holdom will share her RAF story. Photo: Corporal Peter Devine, RAF Photographer

These new talks are an extension of the RAF Stories project launched by the RAF Museum earlier this year as part of the RAF’s Centenary celebrations and commemorations. RAF Stories is a digital online collection, accessible globally by anyone wishing to share and explore engaging, historical and contemporary stories of people’s personal connections to the RAF and the service’s influences on their lives.

In the RAF’s 100th year, the project is already capturing the spirit of what it means to be part of the RAF family and the community of servicemen and servicewomen spread across the globe, supporting and relying on each other both professionally and personally. The forthcoming talks are an opportunity for interested members of the public to hear first-hand, just some of the great stories already captured by the project. Held in the Museum’s National Cold War Exhibition Lecture Theatre, each evening talk will have a key guest speaker focusing on different topics, held on the following dates:

6 September: Michelle Partington
Michelle was operationally deployed as the first female paramedic with the RAF Regiment as well as various tours on the Medical Emergency Response Team taking emergency lifesaving care to those injured on the front line in Afghanistan. Michelle was medically discharged after becoming a victim of PTSD, which left her housebound. Her road to recovery saw her compete in the 2017 Invictus Games. (This talk contains some graphic content and may not be suitable for children under the age of 16.)

4 October: Candida Adkins
Daughter of famous female spitfire pilot Jackie Moggridge, Candida Adkins, will share stories about her mother. After becoming the first woman to do a parachute jump in South Africa, Jackie travelled to England when the war broke out. She joined the ATA where she flew 72 different types of aircraft and was given the Kings Commendation for valuable services in the Air. She later joined the WRAFVR, got her Wings and went on to fly commercially, as an airline captain.

8 November: Ayla Holdom
Former Search and Rescue Sea King pilot, Ayla Holdom became the first openly transgender pilot in the British Armed Forces in 2011. Ayla will share stories about her selection, Search & Rescue, her challenging moments and her RAF family, which included HRH The Duke of Cambridge.

5 December: Peter Ramrayka
Peter Ramrayka was born in what was then colonial British Guiana (now Guyana). The grandson of indentured Indian labourers, he was brought up to believe that, despite his Indian cultural heritage, Britain was, in fact, the ‘Mother Country’. With a steely ambition to become a lawyer, he travelled to England in 1961. He joined the Royal Air Force as an option to both work and study. This led to successful careers and endeavours: the National Health Service; the Magistracy; political activist; Mission Director of a flying teaching eye hospital and much more.

RAF Museum Community Engagement Officer: RAF Stories, Jess Boydon said:

“We’re delighted to offer visitors at the RAF Museum Cosford the exciting opportunity to hear first-hand some of the inspirational and ground-breaking recollections from former RAF personnel and their families about their RAF journey. They have fascinating stories to tell, ranging from a female Spitfire Pilot given the Kings Commendation having flown over 70 different aircraft types, to the first openly transgender pilot in the British Armed Forces, highlighting the inclusivity and diversity of the Royal Air Force.

The talks are free to attend and are a snapshot of some of the widely diverse RAF Stories we have collected over the last 18 months. So far, we have collected stories about courage, love, tragedy, friendship, bravery, triumph, humour, happiness, sadness and everything in between, which expand and enrich our understanding of the RAF today. We believe everyone has or knows someone who has an RAF story and we would encourage people to download the RAF Stories app and share theirs alongside others that tell the story of the RAF.”

The talks taking place on 6 September, 4 October, 8 November and 5 December 2018 start at 7pm, lasting approximately 1 hour, including time for questions. They are free to attend, but as spaces are limited, visitors are advised to book their tickets in advance via the Museum’s website www.rafmuseumorg/cosford to avoid disappointment.

For anyone who would like to contribute to the RAF Stories project, the new RAF Stories App is available to download for free, where you can discover and share the stories of others, or record and upload your own using your mobile device, keeping the story alive and relevant for generations to come. Visit www.rafstories.org for more details.

The RAF Stories project is supported by National Lottery Players through the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is part of the RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme across its two sites in London and Cosford.