Last night the RAF Benevolent Fund held its annual RAFBF Awards at the Royal College of Surgeons in London to celebrate and honour its supporters, donors and volunteers for their remarkable contributions.
The Awards, kindly sponsored by Lockheed Martin UK, were hosted by famous voiceover artist and aviation enthusiast Peter Dickson.
This is the fifth year that the Fund – the RAF's leading welfare charity – has recognised the outstanding efforts made by dedicated individuals, stations, and corporate partners who support the charity each year.
The recipients ranged from a team of six RAF personnel who cycled from RAF Digby to Edinburgh Castle and back, through to a band of Bomber Command Air Crew veterans who have raised more than £100,000 for the Bomber Command Memorial and the RAF Benevolent Fund combined.
All those nominated have demonstrated tremendous commitment to helping the RAF Benevolent Fund in its mission of supporting members of the RAF family in their time of need.
Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "Every year the RAF Benevolent Fund holds its annual Awards ceremony to honour our terrific supporters. This is really our chance to say thank you to all that help and fundraise for us, they are instrumental to the charity and enable us to continue the work we do of supporting the RAF family when in need. It was difficult to select just ten recipients as we are truly indebted to all of our amazing supporters."
The winners were:
- David Stacey, RAFA Hartlepool caseworker, won Welfare Caseworker of the Year Award. His willingness to go the extra mile for his clients and quality of applications were recognised by the RAF Benevolent Fund for the work he does helping RAF veterans. David is quick to identify the need and often adopts a holistic approach to both his casework and the beneficiary.
- Denise Barr won the Airplay Youth Worker of the Year Award. Airplay provides a structured programme of activities and support for children and young people living on or near RAF Stations. Since Denise joined the Airplay scheme at RAF Wyton she has turned it around into a vibrant, fun youth club. Despite only officially working part-time, she often works longer hours to ensure she and the staff provides an excellent service to the young people at Wyton and Brampton.
- MBDA walked away with the Award for Corporate Fundraising Activity of the Year. Since their partnership began, more than £200,000 has been generously donated to the Fund. The company donate a portion of their proceeds each year from their black tie dinner which is attended by 400 customers. In turn, the partnership also provides engagement opportunities and raises awareness of the Fund's work amongst the Defence industry, keeping the needs of the RAF past and present at the forefront of their minds.
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo won the Outstanding Support from an Organisation Award. REMT has been supporting the RAF Benevolent Fund for more than 35 years, with approximately £700,000 being generously donated to the charity during that time. More recently, the partnership has blossomed with the delivery of several exciting joint projects such as the 'Eve of Waterloo' production and the 2015 RAF themed Tattoo.
- The award for Corporate Social Responsibility went to Hypnos for their Gift in Kind. Princess Marina House, the Fund's respite facility on the South coast underwent a recent refurbishment and Hypnos very kindly donated all of the beds. This very generous Gift in Kind is a terrific example of ways in which businesses may choose to support the charity.
- 870 (Dreghorn) Squadron, South East Scotland Air Training Corps scooped the award for ATC Squadron of the Year. The air cadets have generously donated their time and energy to help the RAF Benevolent Fund at a number of events over recent years including the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. They have also arranged their own fundraising events and are busy planning a charity golf day for later in the year!
- Flight Lieutenant Gary Walker was recognised for his outstanding commitment to the charity and received the Above and Beyond Award. During his post as Officer Commanding Community Support Flt at RAF Marham, Gary has enhanced the profile of the Fund and inspired both personnel and civilians to fundraise on our behalf. It is said that his amiable leadership and boundless energy has resulted in more than £40,000 of fundraising for the charity.
- The Fundraising Team of the Year Award went to the Six Spoke Army. The team of six RAF personnel, four riders and two providing logistical support, cycled more than 600 miles from RAF Digby, where they are currently stationed, to Edinburgh Castle and back in a bid to raise money for the Fund.
- The RAF Station of the Year was awarded to RAF Benson. Their impressive recruitment of almost 100 runners in the Reading Half Marathon in both 2015 and 2016 raised an incredible £26,000 for the Fund. This was further supplemented by an additional £4,000 from events such as a train pull, golf day and railway collections.
- The evening ended with a Special Recognition Award, given to the Bomber Command Air Crew Veterans Group (Sussex). The award was collected by Wing Commander John Bell MBE DFC and George Dunn DFC, in recognition of their commitment to fundraising on behalf of the Bomber Command Association and the RAF Benevolent Fund. To date, they have raised a staggering £100,000.