St. Michael's Branch

 

The Overseas Branch of the

Royal Air Force Police Association

 

 

 

Alan Rusling was born on 30th August 1921 in Wombwell, South Yorkshire. He volunteered for the Royal Air Force in 1940 when aged 19 and during the Second World War saw service in various parts of the United Kingdom, Canada, Normandy, the Low Countries and the Rhine. He initially trained as a ground gunner remustering to RAF Police in 1942 whilst stationed in Canada. In 1945 he was given the option of extending his service and opted to re-enlist for 3 years to get a taste of the 'peacetime' RAF. Following his re-enlistment he was promoted to Sergeant and would have happily completed a pensionable engagement; unfortunately he later suffered an eye injury and was unable to extend his service past 1948, his final unit being RAF Duxford. After leaving the RAF he tried a number of different jobs finally settling as a Civil Servant at Norcross, near Blackpool, taking early retirement on health grounds in 1976.

Having retired at a relatively early age (55), and not being the kind of person just to sit back, Alan became heavily involved with the local RBL (Thornton-Cleveleys), serving on the Branch committee and was to be found each November loitering on street corners, together with his wife Sylvia, selling poppies. He also joined his local RAFA Branch quickly becoming the Wings Appeal Organiser; in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the Wings Appeal he was elected as Vice-President of the RAFA Branch in 1995. You would think that this would be enough for a man who had suffered a major heart attack and two strokes, well you would think wrong! In 1990 Alan had joined RAFPA.

Alan attended his first RAFPA AGM & Reunion in 1991 and immediately volunteered to become the Area Representative for the North West of England. He set about organising the Area holding informal meetings of members. RAFPA at this time only numbered around 200 members in total and he realised that to make the NWA a viable proposition numbers had to be increased; he did his own 'mailshots' to regional newspapers and during the ensuing year recruited 50 new members to the Association. Following the adoption of the new RAFPA Constitution & Rules in August 1994 Alan immediately made application, on behalf of the members in the North West, to form a Regional Branch; the Association Officers readily agreed to this and in September 1994 the NWAB (Branch No.1) was formed with him becoming the Branch Secretary, a post he held until shortly before his death in 1997. Alan was truly the torch bearer of the RAFPA Branch system.

If, in 1996, had you posed the question "Had enough yet Alan?" the answer would have been an emphatic "No" as he turned his energy to organising the first Annual Blackpool Reunion at the Hotel Skye that November. In his own words he "thought too small" as the total attendees numbered over 80 and a second hotel had to be used for additional accommodation. The format for the reunion weekend was informal on the Friday night, Branch AGM during the Saturday afternoon followed by the Reunion Dinner in the evening; if this format sounds familiar it should as it has been the one used for the RAFPA AGM & Reunion weekends since 1998. In recognition of his achievements Alan was elected President of the North West Area Branch at their 1996 Branch AGM. For the 1997 Reunion Weekend the much larger Boston Hotel was booked with 120 attending; sadly Alan didn't live to see this reunion, passing away at the age of 76 on Sunday 9th November 1997 (Remembrance Sunday), only 12 days before it was to be held.

Alan Rusling's funeral was held in Blackpool on Friday 14th November 1997, his RAF Ensign draped coffin being escorted by a 20 strong colour party from local ex-service organisations reflecting his involvement with the Blackpool Ex-Service Liaison Committee and D-Day 50th Anniversary Organising Committee. Over 200 mourners attended the service, many of whom had to stand outside to listen to the relayed service over loudspeaker, reflecting the esteem in which he was held.

It was commented during the course of the 1998 RAFPA AGM - "With the passing of Alan Rusling RAFPA lost a true friend".

In 2015 a "paver" was dedicated at the RAF Police Memorial in memory of Alan.

 

 

 

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