THE might of the Royal Navy will be heading to Bournemouth Air Festival for its biggest public event of the year – and it will be emotional for one man in particular.

Commander Tom Herman OBE, deputy naval regional commander for Wales and West England, is retiring next month after 40 years and one week in the Royal Navy.

Cmdr Herman has been involved with the festival since its beginnings in 2008.

This year, the Royal Navy’s flagship will be the frigate HMS Westminster, which will be joined by HMS Mersey, HMS Puncher, HMS Smiter, two landing craft and French warship Sagittaire, which will be part of the event for the first time.

The ships will play various roles, whether it be accommodation for reservists and cadets or taking part in the amphibious assault demonstration.

Cmdr Herman told the Daily Echo: “It’s the biggest outreach event and the biggest reserve training event of the year.”

This year, the Royal Navy is working with charity Wetwheels, and its airborne contingent will include the Merlin, Lynx and Wildcat helicopters, and it is hoped some historic aircraft, weather and serviceability permitting, might be able to attend.

Cmdr Herman was involved in the planning of the very first air festival and 2014 will be his seventh and final event – professionally, at least.

He added: “It’s been one of the highlights of this posting, building the relationship between the Royal Navy and Bournemouth, which has blossomed.

“All events are an act of faith and the way I judge them is by the people I’m working with.

“If you’re presented with a professional team that knows their business, you get a very good feeling and Bournemouth’s events team are second to none.

“It was that early rapport, where we had trust in them and they had trust in us.

“I didn’t have a clue how big it would become, it was jaw-dropping to see the crowds in the first and second years and that gave us the ability to sell this to our command as a really significant event showcasing a better way to tell the public about their Navy.

“At Bournemouth we’re able to graphically get the message across as to why they have got a Navy.”

The air festival brochure is on sale now and is available from Daily Echo offices, shops around the area and the Bournemouth Tourism Information Centre in advance and around the festival site over the event, between August 28-31.

The Daily Echo’s book celebrating the first five years of the festival is also still on sale. Visit oks and follow the links, or call the subscriptions department on 01305 830924 to order by credit or debit card. Read lots more in our air festival section online at and, for mobile users, at

Snap up a prize with your pictures

PHOTOGRAPHERS of all ages are invited to take part in the Daily Echo/Castle Cameras air festival photographic competition during the four-day extravaganza, which gets under way on Thursday, August 28.

There are two categories, adult and junior (16 and under), and we want you to submit one picture that you feel captures the essence of the air festival 2014.

The adult prize is £300 of Castle Cameras vouchers and budding young photographers will compete for a chance to win a red Canon Powershot SX 280 HS.

Once you have chosen your best image (only one entry per person) send us an email with your name, age (for juniors only), address and phone number to airfest2014@ The file should be as large as possible, at least 500kb and state in the subject heading either ‘Adult Air Festival comp’ or ‘Junior Air Festival Comp’.

We will display our favourite images in a gallery at and the deadline for entries is Friday, September 5.