A LARGE crowd gathered in Bangor on Saturday morning to help mark the Royal Air Force's (RAF) one hundredth anniversary.

Despite torrential rain, people came from all parts of Gwynedd and Anglesey and donned their umbrellas to pay their respects and celebrate a very special occasion.

RAF personnel including airmen from RAF Valley, as well as air cadets and veterans joined Bangor Mayor John Wynn Jones, Air Marshal Mike Wigston and the Lord Lieutenants of both Gwynedd and Clwyd at the formal parade.

Following a service in Bangor Cathedral to commemorate both the Battle of Britain and the RAF Centenary, the parade – led by RAF Valley station commander, Group Captain Nick Tucker-Lowe and the Central Band of the RAF - marched through the streets of Bangor.

They did so to exercise their Freedom of the City - something that RAF Valley has held since 1974.

A flypast by three Hawk T2 aircraft from RAF Valley then took place, including the first aircraft in the markings of the newly formed XXV(Fighter) Squadron, which was re-formed on September 8.

Speaking after the parade, Air Marshal Wigston, who is a former pupil at Friars School in Bangor, said: "I am delighted to be back in Bangor for the celebration of the Royal Air Force in Wales.

"From the founding of the RAF in 1918 by Prime Minister David Lloyd George to RAF Valley’s key role now in the defence of the UK, Wales and the RAF share a long and distinguished history.

"I am grateful for the tremendous support we have seen from the City and people of Bangor today, as well as the wider community across North Wales.

"On the threshold of the RAF’s second century, we can look to the future together with confidence and great pride."

RAF Valley station commander, Group Captain Tucker-Lowe said: "This is a momentous week for RAF Valley, and the culmination of a very busy year.

"As we draw to the end of our Centenary, it is fitting that we celebrate the achievements of the Royal Air Force and commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."

RAF Valley celebrated the centenary year with the unveiling of a brand new ‘gate guardian’ at the entrance to the base - a long-standing tradition within the Royal Air Force, with most RAF stations being symbolically guarded by an aircraft of historical significance to the base.

For RAF Valley, this role was undertaken for several decades by a Hawker Hunter, which now resides at the Anglesey Transport Museum. The new gate guardian is a Hawk T1 painted in the current black paint scheme.