THE VICE CHAIRMAN of the Swindon RAF Association has signed off from his role after spending four years supporting former and serving air force personnel.

Hugh Thompson officially stood down at the association’s annual general meeting on Tuesday evening but will continue his work in a welfare capacity.

Mr Thompson said: “I felt it was time to stand aside and let a younger person have a go.

“I’m 71 and I’ve got my fingers in quite a few pies so it’s time to cut things back a little bit and concentrate on the welfare matters. The branch has confirmed the changes at the AGM and will continue to serve both veterans and those serving in the RAF across Swindon.”

In the day before the meeting, Mr Thompson visited a former RAF pilot who flew troop carriers and has needed treatment in hospital for lung disease.

He will continue to earn his wings with the branch, which is based in Belle Vue Road, Old Town, as its honorary welfare officer and conference delegate.

“It’s extremely important that we are here to provide a service to the serving and veteran RAF community, especially at a time when the social services are stretched,” Mr Thompson said.

“There are a lot of lonely ex-servicemen whose wives might have passed away and they find it difficult to manage on their own as times goes by.

“It’s very important to be there for people who have served their country.”

Mr Thompson came to the aid of former RAF serviceman Stephen Dance when the 84-year-old’s Swindon Town away day fund was stolen in a burglary.

Mr Dance had been out with a friend last July when his front door was kicked in and £400 he had been saving for the travel club was stolen.

Fans and the football club made sure the money was replaced but the branch presented the former Leading Aircraftman with a £200 cheque to pass on to the Wiltshire Bobby Van, who secured his house and gave him crime prevention advice after the burglary.

The branch has a busy programme of events lined up this year with the 100th anniversary of the formation of the RAF. A meeting is due to take place at the club on March 8 to outline the plans.

At the meeting Warrant Officer Vince Taylor was confirmed as chairman, replacing Roy Lobley, and Tony Smith became vice chairman.

The branch belongs to the Royal Air Force Association, a charity with 63,500 members worldwide that provides friendship and welfare support for serving and ex-serving RAF personnel and their families.