People out and about in Moray on Christmas Day were treated to the sight of Santa hitching a lift on one of the RAF’s famous Sea King search and rescue helicopters for a final time.
It had been thought that the opportunity for the man in red to fly over the region had been lost when operational reasons forced a cancellation of his planned pre-Christmas tour of Moray’s primary schools.
However, children playing with their new toys in the bright Christmas Day sunshine that existed for most of Moray yesterday were given a treat when the distinctive yellow Sea King flew over with Santa waving joyfully from its open door.
It will be the final time that Moray will see this particular sight, the RAF search and rescue service ending at the end of March when civilian helicopters operated by Bristow will take over the SAR duties – these will operate from Inverness Airport.
Following an announcement recently by the Ministry of Defence the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre currently based at Kinloss Barracks and manned by 27 RAF personnel and 10 civilians will also be transferred to Hampshire.
A group of politicians from all parties bar Scottish Labour have joined in an attempt to reverse the decision to transfer the Moray-based ARCC.
New Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy MP refused to join the cross-party attempt being led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, instead choosing to write a personal letter expressing his concerns to the Secretary of State for Defence.