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A warm hand on my shoulder throughout

The RAF Benevolent Fund has been using donations to help former RAF policeman, James Faulkner, to cope with a brain tumour since 2007 when he was medically discharged from the RAF.

james_with_family.gifIf you’d like to help us continue helping James and his family, and other RAF people in very difficult situations, we promise to use your donation very carefully.
Doctors have now told him that he has around 10 years to live, and with a young family to look after, James wanted to say a few things to the people like you who help the RAF Benevolent Fund.

"I had no idea how much the RAF Benevolent Fund helps, or how good that help is. But ever since I've experienced it myself, I find myself just wanting to tell everyone.

It's not all doom and gloom, so do stay with me, because I'd really appreciate the chance to tell you about the difference you make!

 

How you helped the first time

When I was medically discharged from the RAF because of the brain tumour, I had nowhere to live. My marriage had broken down and I was living on the station. So someone at Headley Court, the military rehabilitation centre where I was having speech therapy, applied on my behalf for help with housing.

Where did I want to live, the RAF Benevolent Fund asked. Near my young son, I said. They were about to sell a house around 20 miles from him and said I could live there if I liked. So that was the first way you helped me, by supporting the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The first happy thing I'd like to tell you

Shortly after I moved into my new home, I met 'lovely Sarah' as I call her, who was in the RAF. As an RAF policeman, I'd always made a point of not dating anyone in the RAF while I was serving. But now here was Sarah, introduced through a mutual friend, and we got married. To tell the truth, I could talk about her forever! We're one of those soppy love stories.

The second happy thing

And out of meeting Sarah came another good thing – our little girl, Eliza, who is three.

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How you helped again

I'd had surgery back in 2006, and been told that the tumour wasn't aggressive. But what the doctors didn’t tell me is that these things come back, and when they do they often change their nature. And in 2014 the not so good stuff started. That’s when you helped again.

The tumour had become very aggressive, and although they removed it, they told me that it will come back. 

During radiotherapy, I was getting so sick that making the 100-mile round trip every day to hospital was a bit of a trauma. So the RAF Benevolent Fund got together with another charity and paid for me to stay in a decent hotel until the treatment was finished. They are so thoughtful, they really are. Your support lets them be like that.

A warm hand on my shoulder

I'm left with immense fatigue and waves of nausea and dizziness. I take various medication to help me get through the day, including ones to stop feeling sick, but occasionally I am still poorly.

I have to be honest though, it is getting harder. A couple of months ago, Sam, my son from my first marriage, was with us for the weekend. I was walking across the living room and passed out, waking up with my head in a bookshelf. When I came to, Sam was very pale. I hadn't told him everything, but I had to then. The next time he came over, he just burst into tears when he saw me. I said, 'Come here,' and gave him a big hug.

Then I collapsed a few days ago when I was trying to read a bedtime story to Eliza. She got out of bed, stroked me, gave me a kiss, and said, 'It's OK Daddy.'

I don't know exactly how things will go from here. My children are going to lose me when they are too young. I wish I could change that. 

But it is a rather wonderful feeling to know that the warm hand of the RAF family is always on my shoulder, and as things change for us, you are there for my family in the years to come." 

Thank you.

James Faulkner
RAF policeman for 15 years

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