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Ben and Bridie Shields

Ben and Bridie Shields spent 34 years in the RAF.

Ben tells their story here:

We were in the RAF for 34 years.My wife, Bridie, set up home for our family 19 times. She and the boys were evacuated by Hercules from Cyprus, and we were stationed in Berlin when the wall came down.

When we retired, we had plans - for travelling the world and seeing our sons and grandchildren more often.

But when the dementia set in, I couldn't get Bridie upstairs to the bathroom in time, and she'd get so distressed and so would I. I was becoming very desperate.

Then one day I heard an ad on the radio for the RAF Benevolent Fund. I phoned them and they sent the local SSAFA rep to see me.

The RAF Benevolent Fund then gave us a grant to build a ground-floor bathroom and bedroom for Bridie and me. I can't tell you how much it's changed our lives now that I don't have to carry her upstairs everyday. It makes everything else easier to cope with somehow.

Bridie used to like to look nice, keep trim and have her hair done once a week. I try to keep that up for her and have a hairdresser in regularly. Since we haven't had all the upset of having to get upstairs to the bathroom, Bridie has relaxed a lot and it's done a lot for her health. She's eating better now and she loves to sit out in the garden.

We had quite a big circle of friends in the RAF. But as Bridie's condition began to get worse, I stopped sending Christmas cards and writing letters.

Last year though, after the Benevolent Fund featured my story in a magazine, I got a letter from an old colleague with his phone number. I called him and he said 'I've seen your house. I went on Google Earth and looked you up!' It was so good to hear from him.

Ben Shields

0800 169 2942

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