My Unforgettable Day with the Red Arrows

Written by Jonathan Patterson.

I’ve always been captivated by the Red Arrows, and the chance to see them up close at RAF Waddington was a dream come true.

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Left: Presenting in front of the Red Arrows who are taxiing to the runway at RAF Waddington Middle: I had to take a picture with the Hawk Jet MKII Right: My interview with Red 10, Graeme Muscat

Our day began in the early morning as we arrived at the base, passing through tight security checks with a sense of mounting excitement. We eagerly awaited our Red Arrows escort, who would take us to the heart of their operations.

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As soon as we stepped off the Red Arrows mini-bus, the deafening roar of jet engines filled the air. We hurried to the viewing point only metres away from the runway, as the Red Arrows formed up and took off in a stunning, orchestrated formation.

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The Red Arrows taking off at RAF Waddington

For the next 20-30 minutes, the Red Arrows captivated us with their brand-new display for their 60th Diamond Season. Their daring barrel rolls, incredibly close manoeuvres, and crowd favourites like the Tornado left us in awe. The nine Hawk Jets flew overhead in an awe-inspiring sight, the thunderous noise was incredible. Starting with Red 1, each jet gracefully peeled away to land, marking the end of an unforgettable performance.

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Some incredible manoeuvres and formations from the Red Arrows 60th Season display

In need of a moment to absorb the experience, we decided to grab a cup of coffee. Within five minutes, a group of officers entered, with distinct marks around their ears from wearing some sort of helmets. It was then that I realised these were the Red Arrows pilots themselves, casually grabbing their coffees in their Red Arrows mugs. I was in complete awe of these men, who moments ago were hurtling through the clouds at over 500 mph.

Our RAF contact informed us that we only had a few minutes before debrief with the pilots. Led by Red One, Jon Bond, the meeting was a fascinating insight into their meticulous process. Each pilot critiqued their performance, highlighting areas for improvement and discussing how to perfect their manoeuvres for the next sortie that day. I was amazed to learn that the Red Arrows conduct these sorties and debriefs three times a day, every day, to ensure their displays are flawless and maintain their public display authority.

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A Red Arrows debrief led by Red 1, Jon Bond, here pilots watch there display moments after flying and critique their performance

Next, we had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Red 10, Graeme Muscat. He shared insights about the Red Arrows, their intense manoeuvres, their strong focus on teamwork, and how they are a beacon for Great Britain, flying the red, white, and blue all over the world.

We were incredibly excited to show Graeme the brand-new 50p coins specially made to celebrate the 60th Diamond Season of the Red Arrows. His elation was clear as he smiled and said, “I think it’s amazing… I can keep that one, right?”

Watch the full interview with Red 10, Graeme Muscat.

Our day with the Red Arrows was nothing short of extraordinary. From witnessing their breath-taking display to meeting the pilots and learning about their dedication, it was an experience that left us deeply inspired. The Red Arrows continue to be a symbol of excellence, teamwork, and pride for Great Britain.

To commemorate this special occasion, a brand-new coin range has been released to celebrate 60 years of the Red Arrows.

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>>> Click here to explore the complete Red Arrows 60th Anniversary Diamond Season coin range <<<

The votes are in. These are the Greatest Britons of all time…

A BBC poll in 2002 crowned Sir Winston Churchill the greatest Briton of all time. More than 20 years later, we asked 50,000 collectors the same thing. Let’s see who took the top spot in 2024…

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10. Queen Victoria

Taking the throne at just 18 years old, Queen Victoria’s reign lasted 64 years – the second longest reign of any British monarch. Her devotion to her husband, Albert, is well documented, along with her decision to wear black for the rest of her life following his death.

Reigning through the age of great industrial expansion, Queen Victoria is associated with economic growth, empire, trade and industry. She is best known for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

9. Horatio Nelson

Regarded the greatest officer in the history of the Royal Navy, Nelson’s passion for taking risks lost him his sight in one eye, an arm, and ultimately his life at the Battle of Trafalgar, for which he is best known.

8. Diana, Princess of Wales

Once married to the now King Charles III, Princess Diana was patron or president of over 100 charities. Her most notable causes include working to reduce homelessness, spreading awareness of HIV/Aids and campaigning to ban the manufacturing and use of land mines.

Diana was also closely associated with the fashion world, renowned for her style and grace.

7. Alan Turing

‘The father of modern computing’, Turing is best known for his work for the British Intelligence Service at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, including breaking the German Enigma machine.

As a gay man, Turing was prosecuted for gross indecency in 1952. In 2013 he was posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II, and in recent years was chosen to be the face of the official British £50 note.

6. William Shakespeare

Generally accepted to be the greatest writer and dramatist of all time, Shakespeare’s plays have been immortalised through the ages, originating hundreds of words and phrases that we use in the English language today.

His most notable works include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, the Merchant of Venice and Sonnets.

5. Charles Darwin

Darwin’s theory of natural selection forms the foundations of all modern evolutionary studies. Shocking for religious Victorian Britain, Darwin kept many of his studies private until the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859 which has had an enormous impact on Western society and thought.

4. Isaac Newton

The inventor of calculus, Newton’s mark on the scientific world is monumental. However, his greatest contribution is the development of a universal law of gravitation and his laws of motion.

A popular myth tells of an apple falling from a tree in Newton’s garden, which brought Newton to an understanding of forces, particularly gravity.

3. Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Brunel’s lasting legacy has transformed that way we approach engineering, transport and construction. Many of Brunel’s constructions are widely recognisable – e.g. The Great Western Railway, The Clifton Suspension Bridge, and Paddington Station.

2. Queen Elizabeth II

Celebrated for her stability and continuity in an ever-changing world, Queen Elizabeth II symbolised the endurance of the British monarchy through dedication to public service and charity.

She is the longest reigning monarch in British history, and the only one to reach her Platinum Jubilee.

1. Sir Winston Churchill – the greatest Briton of all time.

Churchill is remembered as one of the great wartime leaders of the 20th century, pivotal to the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany. He also won the Nobel Prize in literature and earned great renown for his stirring speeches.

In the year that marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, we’re reminded why Churchill’s indelible mark on British history reigns supreme and why, more than 20 years later, British devotion to Sir Winston Churchill remains steadfast, with 63% of the vote.

So, it seems Sir Winston Churchill is still considered the greatest Briton of all time. Do you agree? In your opinion is anyone missing from this list? Let us know in the comments what you think.

Learn more about these (and other) fascinating figures who’ve made a lasting impact on our great nation with the NEW Greatest Britons Collection.

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Start your no-obligation trial today and own the Sir Winston Churchill Commemorative for FREE – you’ll just pay £2.99 p&p.

The never-before-seen set of Branch Mint Sovereigns

Branch Mint Sovereigns are a captivating chapter in the world of numismatics, offering an enchanting glimpse into the rich history of gold coinage and the economic influence that spread across the British Empire and beyond. These coins, minted in locations outside the primary mint (the Royal Mint in London), played pivotal roles in the economies of their respective regions. 

This blog will take you on a journey through the history, significance, and key dates of Branch Mint Sovereigns, including those from Australia, Canada, South Africa, and India.

>>> Click here to secure your Never-Before-Seen British Empire Sovereign Collection <<<

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Branch Mint Sovereigns from the British Empire Sovereign Collection

To distinguish between each of the many Royal Mint locations across the British Empire, gold Sovereigns were for many years marked with a letter symbolising the city or country of their origin. Most gold Sovereign coins were produced in London such as The London Mintmark Sovereign, struck at Tower Hill, and since the 1970s in Llantrisant, South Wales. These coins are unmarked, but many had a small mark above the year of production to indicate their origin. 

The concept of Branch Mint Sovereigns emerged in response to the British Empire’s expansive reach and the need for a stable and uniform currency across its vast territories. The Royal Mint, unable to meet the burgeoning global demand for sovereigns, established branch mints in various colonies. These mints not only facilitated local transactions but also promoted economic stability and integration within the Empire. 

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Australian Branch Mints

Australia became a focal point for branch mint sovereigns due to its rich gold deposits discovered during the 19th century. Three main mints operated in Australia:

  • Sydney Mint (1855-1926): The first Australian branch mint, it produced sovereigns featuring a unique design with “Sydney Mint” on the reverse until 1870, after which it adopted the standard St. George and the Dragon reverse. These early coins are treasures of history, each telling a story of Australia’s gold rush era. Sovereigns produced in Sydney featured the “S” mintmark.
  • Melbourne Mint (1872-1931): Known for its production consistency, the Melbourne Mint produced sovereigns with the “M” mintmark. These coins are prized by collectors for their exquisite craftsmanship and historical significance.
  • Perth Mint (1899-1931): The Perth Mint also produced sovereigns marked with a “P”. Its coins stand out for their quality and the rich history of Western Australia’s gold mining legacy.
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1913 ‘M’ Melbourne Mintmark Sovereign

Canadian Branch Mint 

The Ottawa Mint, now the Royal Canadian Mint, was established in 1908. Canadian sovereigns, produced between 1908 and 1931, are distinguished by their “O” mintmark. These coins are a testament to Canada’s important role in the British Empire, especially during the First World War. Each sovereign from this era carries with it the story of a nation coming into its own on the global stage. 

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1911 ‘O’ Ottawa Mintmark Sovereign

South African Branch Mint 

The Pretoria Mint began producing sovereigns in 1923, bearing the “SA” mintmark. These coins are significant due to South Africa’s prominent role in gold production. Sovereigns from the Pretoria Mint circulated widely, symbolizing the region’s economic might and the depth of its natural resources. 

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1927 ‘SA’ Pretoria Mintmark Sovereign

Indian Branch Mint 

The Bombay Mint produced sovereigns for a brief period from 1918 to 1919. These coins, marked with an “I” mintmark, are rare and hold a special place in the history of British India. They were minted to address the wartime demand for gold coinage and reflect India’s pivotal role in the British economy. Each coin is a rare gem, representing a fleeting yet crucial moment in history. 

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1918 ‘I’ Bombay Mintmark Sovereign

Branch Mint Sovereigns offer a fascinating glimpse into history, connecting the economic dots of the British Empire. From the goldfields of Australia to the financial hubs of Canada, South Africa, and India, these coins represent not just currency but also the economic and cultural exchanges of their time. Collectors and historians alike value these coins for their beauty, rarity, and the stories they tell about an era of global trade and imperial reach. 

Dive into the world of Branch Mint Sovereigns with the Complete set of SEVEN ‘Mintmark’ Sovereigns, and let each coin take you on a journey through history. Each Sovereign has been handpicked to complete a set of all seven different mintmarks and all feature the official portrait of George V on the obverse.

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>>> Click here to secure your Never-Before-Seen British Empire Sovereign Collection <<<