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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Duke visits RAF families
Duke of York at Lossiemouth
The Duke chats with families
The Duke of York has paid a morale-boosting visit to the families of personnel from RAF Lossiemouth who are serving in the Gulf.

The Duke, who is the Moray air base's honorary commodore, asked how the families were coping with the separation.

His own experience of serving in the Falklands War meant he was able to empathise with the women he met during the informal visit.

Lisa Sweeting, whose husband Robert is with the 51 Squadron RAF Regiment in Southern Iraq, was had only been married for two weeks before he had to leave for the Gulf.

The couple had to postpone their honeymoon and Mrs Sweeting is planning to organise an "even bigger and better" holiday when her husband returns.

The visit means an awful lot to us, it's great to see him take the time to come and talk to people
Wing Commander David Bye

Helen Wilkinson is hoping her husband Richard, who also serves with 51 Squadron, will make it home for the birth of their first child who is due in two weeks.

She said: "The prince was very charming and interested in what our husbands were doing out in Iraq.

"It does boost morale to have a Royal visitor and it's nice to know that people care and to be recognised."

Her friend Amber Hogg added: "There is a close network here and we all try to support each other.

"Things like today's visit are nice because it's good to know people like the Prince know what's going on and are interested."

Kinloss visit

The Duke spent almost an hour chatting with the families at a community centre on the base.

He had lunch in the officers' mess and as well as visiting Lossiemouth he also found time to pay a visit to families at nearby RAF Kinloss.

RAF Lossiemouth Acting Station Commander Wing Commander David Bye said: "The visit means an awful lot to us, it's great to see him take the time to come and talk to people.

"He's been to RAF Lossiemouth many times so he knows what happens here and we are very pleased that he asked if he could come up and talk to the families."

About 500 personnel from RAF Lossiemouth are currently serving in the Gulf.

They include support staff and pilots from the 617, 12 and 14 Squadrons.

The base is home to 70 Tornado aircraft and about 3,000 service and civilian personnel.

Website 'brings families together'
30 Mar 03  |  Scotland

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