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First World War hero honoured at Hornchurch Country Park funday

PUBLISHED: 12:17 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:23 06 September 2016

Deputy Lt Col Mark Bryant, Mike Warner, Cllr Melvin Wallace and Sally Miller at the roundel

Deputy Lt Col Mark Bryant, Mike Warner, Cllr Melvin Wallace and Sally Miller at the roundel

Archant

Members of the community gathered to mark the centenary of the first pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain during the First World War, on Saturday.

Lt William Leefe Robinson took off from Hornchurch Airfield - now the site of Hornchurch Country Park - on Sunday, September 3, 1916 and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

To mark the historic date, the Friends of Ingrebourne Valley and Hornchurch Country Park held a commemorative ceremony and a funday complete with dazzling displays, 1940s music, a barbecue and children’s activities.

Ray Randall, vice chair of the park group said: “It went very well, there was lots of people there.

“The Essex Regiment did a military display. We also had a replica aircraft.

“Everybody loved it. It was fantastic.”

A sculpture, by Julian Stocks, based on an RAF roundel entitled First Things First - the motto of Hornchurch Airfield, was unveiled by Dep Lt Col Mark Bryant MBE and Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet member for culture and community engagement.

Community members contributed to the sculpture by designing their own roundels which have been incorporated into the design.

The sculpture is interactive and can be touched, sat on or used for brass rubbing.

Committee member, Liz Hawthorne said: “It is a chance for us to make sure that the park and the massive part it played during the war in protecting the south east is recognised.”

A unique “living museum” booth was also unveiled at the event by The Essex Wildlife Trust, based at Broxhill Rd, Havering-atte-Bower.

The interactive booth provides information about the park and its history using photographs, videos and recordings.

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