Glitz, Glamour… and Churchill: when the 1940s came to North Yorkshire

RAF Leeming Officers’ Mess Summer Ball

by Flt Lt Jo Cartmell

‘At Last’…on Friday 17 September 2021, RAF Leeming Officers’ Mess opened its doors for the first formal large-scale event since the start of COVID restrictions some 18 months earlier. The Battle of Britain themed ball was perfectly planned and executed by PMC, Sqn Ldr Andy Wood, and the ingenious Officers’ Mess Committee. A total of 280 serving personnel and their well-dressed guests attended, including a large contingent of Northumbrian and Yorkshires University Air Squadrons.

If the sight of Winston Churchillpulling up to the steps of the Officers’ Mess on a fine summer’s evening didn’t set the scene then maybe the velvety crooning of ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ put you in the mood. Or, maybe it was arching your neck, chilled G&T in hand, watching the Spitfire in all his roaring majesty loop back and forth, echoes of history falling from his wings and leaving the crowd longing for just one more glimpse before melting away into the clouds.

On the green lawns, the magic of the night continued to unfold and charm. Colourful helterskelters twisted and turned, the Ferris wheel spun, classic dodgems bashed and bumped; the Strongman Challenge dinged, coconuts shied and lead pellets pinged.

Inside, the revelry continued, with the popular silent disco drawing crowds and putting a smile on everyone’s faces. The live band belted out rock and indie classics and got everyone moving.

There was good food galore, with schnitzel and fries and the most expansive (and delicious!) dessert trolley ever seen, to name just a few of the treats on offer.

All in all, a wonderful night and opportunity to connect once again with colleagues, friends and family. By the time you read this, the OM will have had the first Dining-In Night in a long time, and all the Messes will be gearing up for the Christmas Draws. It feels good to be socialising again, and hopefully restrictions will continue to ease and allow us these small, but very important, pleasures in life.

Finally, a big thank you to Flt Lt James O’Doherty, Communications and Publicit Member, who will have left RAF Leeming by the time this comes to print. A dedicated member of the OM Committee throughout COVID, O’D has done a sterling job in reviving ‘Mess life’. Good luck – the OM and RAF Leeming will miss you.