The unveiling was a great occasion. The weather was kind to us, allowing a flypast by an evocative lone Spitfire. It flew past twice - the second time it flew along the line of Regent Street and performed a wing waggle. A wing waggle is a way for a pilot to communicate with someone on the ground with whom he has no radio contact. Loosely it signifies “I have seen you” or “Goodbye”. War movie buffs may recall the scene in the movie ‘A Bridge Too Far’ about the Battle of Arnhem in which a Dutch boy is cycling along collecting information on the insignia of German units for his father who is in the Resistance. He is overflown by a Spitfire on a reconnaissance mission. As the little boy waves, the Spitfire pilot waggles his wings. Communication to the little boy in an occupied country from a friendly pilot.
Seeing a Spitfire and hearing its Rolls Royce Merlin engine rarely fails to stir the emotions and a lot of people who attended the unveiling ceremony seemed to find the occasion moving. Not just because of the Spitfire. There was also the presence of so many of the surviving veterans of the Battle, the speeches, the RAF band ( I can’t hear the Battle of Britain theme without a lump in my throat) the honour guard and the symbolism of Wing Commander Bob Foster, one of the veterans, and Leigh Park, the great great niece of Sir Keith, joining to unveil the statue. Through their hands there was in that moment a link with Sir Keith to the men he commanded and his family.
The Campaign staged a dinner on the eve of the unveiling at which I thanked the many people who helped make it a success. All that remains for me to do now is to find a moment when I am passing Waterloo Place to stand quietly and look at Sir Keith’s statue without the paraphernalia which surrounded it at the unveiling, gazing out over the city he defended.
All good things must come to an end. And so it is with the Sir Keith Park Memorial Campaign. We achieved our objective. In some style. The trouble is that when you have climbed the greasy pole there is nothing at the top. The journey is the whole point. So where next……………….?