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RAF Lossiemouth veterans welcome former Elgin Buccaneer to new Fife home

Navigator Dan Needham, picture left, who flew in this actual jet alongside Buccaneer pilot Rick Phillips. Photo: Kenny Smith/ DCT Media
Navigator Dan Needham, picture left, who flew in this actual jet alongside Buccaneer pilot Rick Phillips. Photo: Kenny Smith/ DCT Media

RAF Lossiemouth veterans made the trip to Fife to see the former Elgin Buccaneer jet unveiled in a poignant ceremony.

A lone piper kicked off the formalities as serving RAF personnel joined Buccaneer veterans and families at the Scottish Deer Centre.

Park owners David Hamilton and Gavin Findlay bought the former fighter jet from a petrol station in Elgin.

And they transported it to Cupar, where it now takes pride of place on a replica runway complete with wind sock.

The plan is for it to become an educational tool for children who will be able to sit in the cockpit.

Fife Provost Jim Leishman performed the official unveiling and said he was excited to be there.

“It’s pleasure and an honour,” he said. “I’m so proud of this.”

A poignant day for RAF Lossiemouth Buccaneer veterans

But the event was particularly touching for the many veterans who flew in the Buccaneer during active service.

Among them was Flight Commander Rick Phillips, who piloted the aircraft for 22 years, and navigator Keith Nugent.

The pair served with 208 Squadron at Lossiemouth and were often teamed together, including during the 1991 Gulf War.

Keith Nugent, left, and Rick Phillips attended the Deer Centre for the Buccaneer unveiling.
Keith Nugent, left, and Rick Phillips. were at the Deer Centre for the Buccaneer unveiling. Picture Kenny Smith/ DCT Media

Rick said: “I was everywhere it served and I loved it.

“It means a lot to me that we’ve actually kept it.

“I live in Elgin and didn’t want it to leave there but I’m glad it’s still in Scotland.”

Keith added: “I was very much a youngster but we all had a great love of the aeroplane.

“It’s a lovely aircraft.”

David and Gavin worked with the RAF Benevolent Fund to display the Deer Centre’s Buccaneer and install the runway.

A 250-tonne crane lifted the jet from the Cupar venue’s car park, over the trees to its new home.

The pair hope to restore it to its former glory while teaching children about its history.

And Gavin, whose grandfather served in the RAF in Canada, had a lump in his throat as it was unveiled.

“I had tears in my eyes.” he said. “It just means so much to me.

“The RAF Benevolent Fund will now help us get everything looking as it should.”

Setting up a veterans’ hub at the Scottish Deer Centre

David and Gavin also intend to work closely with the fund to to help Air Force veterans.

They will set up a veterans’ hub within the Scottish Deer Centre where former servicemen and women can seek help and advice.

Gavin Davey, director of the RAF Benevolent Fund for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cyprus, said the hub was important.

The Buccaneer is on a mock runway. Photo: Kenny Smith/ DCT Media

“There’s a tremendous pride associated with having served one’s country and asking for help when it’s required,” he said.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of kids come here every year.

“Many come with parents or grandparent, many of whom have served their country.

“Maybe having a conversation with them will help them in their hour of need.”

Deer Centre Buccaneer service

The Deer Centre Buccaneer was delivered to the RAF in 1970 and served with 216 Squadron and 208 Squadron.

And it carried out UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon while based in Cyprus.

It was then assigned to RAF Lossiemouth in 1987.

And four years later it went to Iraq during the Gulf War.

But in 1994, 208 Squadron was disbanded and the jet was retired.

After its service at RAF Lossiemouth, the Buccaneer stood guard outside a petrol station in Elgin for more than 20 years until David spotted it for sale on Gumtree.

He and Gavin bought it for £28,000 and spent a further £26,000 transporting it 140 miles to Fife.

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