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Saluting Kent’s Veterans

Saluting Kent’s VeteransResidents at a care home in Tunbridge Wells were recognised  and honoured for their contribution to HM Armed Forces (Saturday 18 July).

Ten residents at Rusthall Lodge, a ‘not-for-profit’ stand-alone home, received HM Armed Forces enamelled pin badges at a ‘Home Front’ themed event at the weekend. In the presence of members of the Royal British Legion, RAFA, T.S. Brilliant Corps of Bugles and Drums, the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, their families and other invited guests, the event commemorated and recognised the valuable contribution made by the residents in serving their country. With entertainment throughout the day, the event culminated with a fly-past by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Dakota from 233 Squadron.

Among those recognised is Rusthall Lodge resident Margaret Van Den Burgh, 93. Margaret was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force stationed at Beachy Head between 1941 and 1945. As a radar operator, she was one of those responsible for delivering information to the controller who was in direct contact with the pilots.

Also included is Betty Kormanic, 93, who as a WAAF initially based in Rye, East Sussex, was later relocated to Yatesbury in Wiltshire. Betty’s role was training other radar operators – a vital role during the Second World War. Betty was eventually commissioned as a Signal Officer, based at Lake Windermere.

Bill Blackford, compliance manager at Rusthall Lodge said: “We are truly honoured to have had the opportunity to organise and host this event. In many respects it’s a small gesture we’re making for such a huge contribution all our residents made during that dark period. We’re all aware that peoples’ experiences of that time differ so we treat everybody with dignity, and respect the wishes of those who do not wish to elaborate on their own contribution to the war effort.”

Rusthall Lodge began life as the home of Miss Fremlin (of the brewery family) and became a care home in 1968. From its beginnings as a grand Kentish family home it has undergone a series of redevelopments over the years and is just embarking on the next phase of its development under the careful eye of general manager, Sandra Wilmshurst.

Sandra said “We are a unique care home in the area as we are not part of a larger group. We pride ourselves on our genuine warmth and friendliness as well as our commitment to delivering the best possible service for those people in our care.”


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