Last week I was delighted to meet Darren Henry, a man whose name you may not recognise but whose actions are unforgettable.
Mr Henry was responsible for the ‘RAF Farewell To Andover’ in 2009 which many will remember fondly with many local people taking part in the marvellous outpouring of pride in the Royal Air Force which held links with Andover for so many decades.
This meeting centred around another military related event as the former Squadron Leader showcased his darts team formed of members from the RAFs Association to compete at this year’s Armed Forces Day in July.
Darren told me how the RAFs Association is made up of Royal Air Forces from across the globe, including those in Australia and Canada. The branch in Andover is slowly reducing in size and Darren is actively encouraging RAF personnel to join.
Knowing that Darren is on the approved candidates list for the Conservative Party I was curious to hear his thoughts on Andover, it’s history and potential future problems and I was struck by how thoughtful Darren is on what needs to be done to make the town viable for future generations.
Darren has spent many years working with community and youth projects, after joining the Royal Air Force in 1987 he spent time working to build community support for personnel and their families. Darren tells me that he was integral in developing the Community Covenant with Norfolk County Council when he was based at RAF Marham.
Within Andover Darren has taken a keen interest in the Youth Council becoming a Panel Advisor to guide the youth councillors in their activities. His commitment to young people is striking, telling me that his main concern for the town is ensuring there are opportunities to keep them in the town as they move into work, by way of good education and apprenticeships.
After speaking to Darren he introduced me to members of the local branch of the RAFs Association, comprising former military personnel and their spouses. The chairman of the association is competing with Darren on his darts team, along with the wife of another association member.
It was great to see his strong commitment to both supporting and promoting the military within Andover and his wider recognition of some of the prevailing social issues of the town, this will no doubt encourage many local people who are interested in potential candidates to be our next MP.
Armed Forces Day will be returning to Andover in July on Saturday 5th between 10:00 and 21:00hrs and Sunday 6th between 10:00 and 18:00hrs. If you would like to arrange a team to compete in the sports events you can visit the website to download entry forms.