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Opinion: Bringing constituents closer to Armed Forces

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 September 2018

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

Archant

The magnificent RAF100 flypast across London in July, featuring Spitfires, Tornadoes and Red Arrows, was the perfect celebration of our Royal Air Force in its centenary year.

Many constituents may have a personal connection to the RAF in having a relative who has served.

For those who do not, however, there is plenty to celebrate about the critical role our borough has played in the RAF’s history.

RAF Hornchurch, originally known as Suttons Farm, closed as a military base in the 1960s and clues to its existence can now be found only through local road names (Airfield Way, Squadrons Approach) and information boards. However, when it was operational, RAF Hornchurch was a critical airbase defending Britain in both world wars and supporting missions to the continent.

It is now the only former Battle of Britain aerodrome not to have a museum, and the Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Society wish to rectify that by establishing a heritage centre within Suttons House, a 1930s building used by the RAF during the war.

I am working with Brendan Finucane QC and Iain Duncan Smith MP, whose father served at RAF Hornchurch, to support the project and ensure that future generations understand the significance of our constituency in the war effort.

The RAF is not something simply to be memorialised, however, as it continues its vital work to protect us from new and emerging threats.

For this reason, I began the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme this month at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham. The scheme places MPs within one of the three services to experience what life is like for our military personnel and understand more deeply the military challenges facing us.

I hope to use my experience with the RAF to inform parliamentary contributions and bring our constituency closer to the work of our Armed Forces. If you or anyone you know might be interested in a fulfilling career serving our nation in the RAF, please visit raf.mod.uk/recruitment/

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