Monday 11th October 2021
His Worship, The Mayor of Gibraltar conferred the Freedom of the City to the Royal Air Force (RAF) to the Chief of the Air Staff’s representative, Air Vice Marshal Richard Maddison OBE MA RAF, during a military parade today in John Mackintosh Square.
The Freedom was conferred on the RAF and the parade reflected the breadth of RAF involvement with Gibraltar. Fittingly, present were personnel from RAF Gibraltar and across British Forces Gibraltar, as well as representatives from the Queen’s Colour Squadron, 32 (The Royal) Squadron, and 4624 (Reserve) Squadron, and local air cadets from No 2 (Overseas) Air Training Corps Squadron. Music was provided by a combined band consisting of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, and the Royal Bermudan Band.
Spectators at this prestigious event included the Governor of Gibraltar, His Excellency Vice Admiral Sir David Steel KBE DL, the Chief Minister, The Honourable Fabian Picardo QC MP and the Commander of the British Forces Gibraltar, Commodore Steve Dainton CBE. Conferring the Freedom of a city is a tradition dating back to ancient Rome. In modern times, martial freedom of a city is a ceremonial honour, usually reserved for a military unit with ties to that area.
When presenting the Freedom, His Worship the Mayor highlighted the role that the RAF had recently played in the nation’s history. He stated that the RAF’s “service to Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and the people of Gibraltar in providing the transport of the COVID-19 vaccine will never be forgotten and will be noted for future generations.”
During his response, Air Vice Marshal Maddison described RAF Gibraltar’s long involvement with the Rock, which started even before the birth of the RAF with the presence of a Royal Naval Air Station base in the early 20th Century. Speaking first of the local involvement through the World Wars, Cold War, and beyond, Air Vice Marshal Maddison then reiterated the pride felt by the RAF at the receipt of such a great privilege.
Commander British Forces Gibraltar, Commodore Steve Dainton CBE, witnessed the parade and said “it gives me great satisfaction and delight to see the support that RAF Gibraltar has offered to the Rock for so long has been acknowledged and honoured in this way.”
Station Commander of RAF Gibraltar, Wing Commander Nel Doherty, commented that “It was a highlight of my career to be the Parade Commander for the Conferral, and I am hugely grateful that we have finally managed to hold this event. It is wonderful that the RAF’s role in Gibraltar has been recognised today, and I am grateful to both the Mayor’s Office and my RAF team who have worked exceptionally hard to pull together this event. I am thrilled that it has been such a success.”
See also: Gibraltar Assignments