Military personnel deployed across the Middle East and the USA have undertaken a baton relay to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain while raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
The baton visited four locations across the Middle East and finished at Creech Air Force base in Nevada, USA, with each location completing an 80 km relay in small teams. As a result, the baton travelled 18,000 km over 11 days, almost halfway around the world. The teams were made up of deployed military personnel representing the whole force, with the baton predominantly being flown around the Middle East by the Atlas A400M.
The event was overseen by Flt Lt Swift to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the famous battle in which Royal Air Force pilots bravely fought in the skies above Britain to defend our shores from Nazi invasion all those years ago.
Flt Lt Swift said: “It’s been fantastic how enthusiastic people have been to take part and support the event, with it being conducted over such a large area the assistance people have provided in each location has been immense. The RAF Benevolent Fund help such an array of military personnel with a wide range of issues, it’s really nice in this case to be giving them some support at such a difficult time.”
Personnel, including the Air Component Commander, completed the 80 km run in each location either on artificial tracks, around their deployed Unit, or in some cases on a treadmill due to temperatures barely dropping below 40 degrees Celsius. But in each case participants did their bit to chip away at the distance to raise sponsorship whilst commemorating a milestone in the RAF’s history.
Cpl Mills, the event lead in one of the locations said: “It’s been amazing how many people we have had wanting to take part, Operations can be incredibly stressful and it’s nice to see how a sporting challenge can unify people, even in these sort of environments, although I’m sure there were a few very tired feet afterwards!”
Heather Kemp, Regional Fundraiser at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “This challenge truly was a team effort, with personnel at locations across the Middle East and in the USA coming together to recognise this important anniversary and support the Fund. We are so incredibly grateful to everyone that took part, especially at this difficult time.”
Collectively the team have raised almost £500. You can donate via the team’s fundraising page: justgiving.com/fundraising/bob-80.