FRIENDS OF ST GEORGE'S CHAPEL OF REMEMBRANCE
Chairman's New Year Message 2018
The start of any New Year and its future is largely what you make of it but the future of St George's Chapel looks bright. The past is just what it says and has passed. It is now set firmly in time and cannot be changed but the future is ours to decide. Personal resolutions to be quickly made and perhaps equally quickly broken. We all do it!
There is an expression in the media that any publicity is good publicity. We have certainly had publicity of one sort or another but much good has come out of it. There is now an excellent and dedicated band of new volunteers working for the good of the Chapel and the future of the Museum. A working party, and I do mean working, has been formed to give much care and attention to the Memorial Gardens which are important to so many of you. It’s amazing what has been done in such a short space of time. The Friends' Committee has allocated suitable funding which will that the Memorial Garden remains a worthy place of Remembrance.
Another group is researching the history of the airmen commemorated in the Book of Remembrance. It is only right that their sacrifice and history is preserved and made known for future generations. As regular worshipers of St George's will already know it has been a long tradition that the names of the fallen nearest to a Sunday service, are read out and remembered in prayer.
The Battle of Britain service which was the final service of 2017 was exceptionally moving and as always, well attended. The Chapel was again open during the afternoon of Remembrance Sunday and it was amazing how many people came to pay their respects, some of whom had never visited the Chapel before.
On clearing out the store room in readiness for works to begin, a wonderful artefact has been found. It is the working drawings, all done by hand of the Chapel hassocks or kneelers. Biggin Hill's strongest link motif is fully detailed with the stitches to be used. There are 92 hassocks bearing the names of Squadrons, airfields and occasionally Nations. These were produced by RAF personnel and the civilian congregation over a period of years in the early days of the Chapel. It is these hassocks which give St George's its overall restful blue appearance when one first enters. Did perhaps you or one of your relatives produce one? — Let us know. There are a few initials but most are anonymous. It would be lovely to have first-hand information as the hassocks and their amazing hand drawn instruction sheet will feature in the Museum.
Everything in the Chapel including the stained-glass windows are now being taken care of by a team of expert conservationists ensuring their long-term future. The sound system and induction hearing loop requires overhaul and upgrading and I am proposing that the Friends make a suitable financial contribution as many of you will know the acoustics in the Chapel can be difficult.
We have another volunteer who has kindly offered to help keep the website up to date and as an experiment we will be including a contact e-mail address through which queries and information can be processed or forwarded to the appropriate person for action.
I am advised that the construction of the Museum is pretty much on schedule and that the curators have an excellent now of original artefacts and historical items to make this a Museum of the people and their stories. It is up to us, the Friends, to help to make it the success that it deserves, to be preserving the history of RAF Biggin Hill from its early days through World War Il and beyond.
In conclusion may I join with my Committee in wishing you and your families, wherever you may be in the world, a Happy and Healthy 2018.