CROSS TO BEAR: RAAF reunion organiser Lill Colless with of 1100 wooden crosses, representing the number of airmen killed during WWII who were trained at the Number One Bombing and Gunnery School at Evans Head.
CROSS TO BEAR: RAAF reunion organiser Lill Colless with of 1100 wooden crosses, representing the number of airmen killed during WWII who were trained at the Number One Bombing and Gunnery School at Evans Head. Jamie Brown

Evans reunion is all primed for take-off

A SMALL but determined band of volunteers from the Evans Head Living Museum got the chance to sit down and relax last night ahead of this weekend's 70th anniversary reunion of the Number One Bombing and Gunnery School.

Joining veterans of the local airbase at a reception in the RSL Club, organiser Lill Colless said 12 months of intense preparation had resulted in a packed weekend with little last-minute panic.

Officially opening the reunion today at 11.30am will be the Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

Her husband Michael will give a speech based on his experience in the Air Training Corps and as an intelligence officer in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve from 1956 to 1970.

He was awarded the Air Efficiency Award in 1970. He was later patron of the RAAF Association in Queensland for some years.

Among the many attractions will be a band of enthusiastic aeroplane modellers, including Mrs Colless' son Steve Thomas who will display his model B17 Lancaster bomber, with a wingspan of more than five metres.

There will also be RAAF dog handling on display, including cute puppies.

Tomorrow, a highlight of the weekend will be the Northern Rivers Big Band performance at the Evans River K-12 school auditorium from 2-5pm, at a cost of $10.

The band was formed more than 60 years ago as the Stan Chillcott Big Band, with Stan being a pilot trainer at the Evans Head bombing and gunnery school.

Later the band became the NRBB when Stan was tragically killed in an aircraft accident.

Several players of the current NRBB were members of Stan's original band, including baritone sax player Owen Graham, vocalist Jim Fairfull, band leader Roger Munsie, tenor sax players Royden Ainsworth and Barry Chillcott (Stan's son). The current line-up of 18 players features five saxes, four trombones, four trumpets and vocalists.

The band plays a mixture of acoustic music from the 1940s through to the 1970s and varies its program at each concert.

As the band will cost the Evans Head Living Museum $2500, it is imperative this event be patronised.



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