2013 was a busy year for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Here's a round up of some of the events, activities and fundraising that took place this year.
January: Our London headquarters received a very special visit from HRH The Duke of Kent who met with our staff, trustees, beneficiaries and ambassadors. It was the Duke's first visit to our headquarters since its renovation and refurbishment.
February: We brought you the heart-warming story of Bethan who got married to her RAF sweetheart Dan. The couple decided to support the RAF Benevolent Fund whilst celebrating their big day.
March: The RAF Benevolent Fund featured in the BBC show, Heir Hunters, about tracking down the beneficiaries of wills. In the show, an investigation into an unclaimed estate revealed the story of the daughter of an aviation engineer who helped design the remarkable Lysander aircraft. As it turns out, a valid will was later found and the RAF Benevolent Fund was the sole beneficiary. In a guest blog, Becky Brazier, our Legacy & In Memoriam Fundraiser, highlighted some key things about legacies and how they're so important to a charity such as ours.
April: The RAF Spitfire 7s rugby team embarked on an ambitious 500-mile cycle challenge to raise money for us.
May: Dame Judi Dench became a patron of the Upkeep Club for the Bomber Command Memorial. She also made a special visit to the Memorial where she paid tribute to the thousands of young men from Bomber Command who were killed during the Second World War.
June: To mark the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid, we brought you an exclusive series of blogs featuring interviews with Bomber Command veterans Johnny Johnson and Les Munro and also Mary Stopes-Roe, daughter of bouncing bomb inventor Barnes Wallis. We raised £25,000 from our Dambusters campaign.
July: We were joined by over 4,500 people for our Anthems in the Park concert at RAF Cranwell. Performers included operatic duo Jonathan and Charlotte and the Cranwell Military Wives Choir. In a guest blog, chorister Heather Kasperczyk told us all about the choir's preparations for what was an unforgettable day.
August: We were very pleased to hear about Team RAFBF Spitfire's win at Cowes Week. They won the J70 Class. In a guest blog, the team's manager and skipper Wing Commander Simon Ling told us what it was like to compete at the event.
September: We launched our augmented reality Spitfire app which was created by app developers Bronze Labs. We were very honoured to have WWII Spitfire pilot Nigel Rose attend our launch. We also interviewed Nigel as we marked the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In a special blog, he told us about one of his closest shaves in the Battle.
October: RAF Benevolent Fund supporter Sean Allerton wrote a fantastic guest blog about his 500-mile wheelchair push around RAF stations to raise money for us.
November: We were deeply moved by the story of Bomber Command veteran Harold Percival who sadly passed away and was thought to have had no remaining family to attend his funeral on 11 November, Armistice Day. After news of this spread across social media, people turned up in their thousands to pay their respects to this WWII hero. Bob Kemp, our Regional Director for Scotland and Northern England, was one of those who attended and in a guest blog he explained why, like so many, he felt that he just had to be there.
December: A team of RAF personnel from 216 Squadron and 47 Squadron embarked on a rowing race from San Sebastián de la Gomera in the Canary Islands all the way to Antigua in the Caribbean. Before they set off, team member Howard Raw told us all about the challenge and why his team, Atlantic Forces, wanted to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.