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Centre celebrates Moray's military past ... and present

By Alistair Whitfield

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THE military heritage centre at Covesea is marking its first birthday with a request for more artefacts.

The centre is on the lookout for items that celebrate the rich and long-established history of both the RAF and Royal Navy within Moray.

Former serviceman Chris Tuke is one of the voluntary directors of the facility which is sited near to the lighthouse.

He said: "We're always looking for little personal stories and pieces which help to recall life at RAF Lossiemouth and HMS Fulmar.

"The services have been such a big part of the community and they continue to be now."

RAF Lossiemouth was opened on May, 1939, less than six months before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Shortly after the conflict ended the base was transferred to the Navy and became HMS Fulmar.

This is how it remained for three and a half decades until, in September 1972, it reverted back to being an air base once more.

The base survived the threat of closure in 2011 thanks in no small part to the efforts of the 7000 local protest marchers.

Now, with the arrival beginning next year of nine Poseidon P-8 aircraft, it is again at the very forefront of military matters.

Chris, who used to be a sonar operator, retired from the military in 2005, having first being posted to Moray in 1982.

The Burghead resident said: "We like to work hand in hand with Morayvia over in Kinloss. A lot of visitors to Moray are interested in coming to both locations. That's why we have their literature at our place and they have ours.

Among the artefacts already on display is the large bell which stood for many years outside the front gates of HMS Fulmar.

This was found at house in Birmingham following an earlier appeal.

Meanwhile, the most recent addition to the collection, is a 12ft model of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, which was found in the attic of a former serviceman and kindly donated by his family.

The centre is open from 11am-4pm on Saturday and Sundays. Contact Chris on 01343 835537.

The lighthouse, meanwhile, is open for tours on Saturday mornings or Wednesday evenings. Booking essential. Contact 01343 810664.

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