I watched last night's episode of, " Lesser Spotted Ulster," which was looking at the area surrounding Ballykelly and in particular the slob lands. I enjoy this series. The reference to Ballykelly and indeed RAF Ballykelly reminded me that I had some philatelic memorabilia relating to the village filed away carefully in a brown box. A two hour rummage this morning was all it took to locate the correct brown envelope in the correct box. I knew my system would not fail me.
In September 1970 RAF Ballykelly Philatelic Club and the Londonderry Philatelic Society put on a joint stamp exhibition and fair under the rather grand title of, "Norwest Ulsterex." This took place in Ballykelly Primary School. A friend of my father took me along. I cannot remember why my father was unable to take me, but he delegated the responsibility to one of his friends.
Whilst the event was billed as a joint venture I had the feeling that the airforce chaps were the prime movers, in particular one Squadron Leader T. J. Hanbury. I can't pretend that I have very vivid memories of the day, but I do remember that the school seemed very crowed with people, so it was presumably a reasonably successful event. The organisers produced a set of four commemorative covers (2,000 sets) and a pair of commemorative postcards (500 sets). This does seem a large number, but I do recollect being told by Sqn. Ldr. Hanbury that there was a large demand from other squadrons and ex RAF personnel. All the covers have a certification stamp stating that they were delivered by mail drop from a Shackleton of No 204 Squadron and they are signed by Flt. Lt. Gordon T. Smyth.