This Father's Day we're celebrating RAF dads. Lee Cunliffe, a former RAF dog handler, is a dad of four. In this blog he tells us what Father's Day means to him.
Father's Day to me is a day for spending quality time with your dad or your children. I have four children – two girls and two boys aged three to 14. At the moment I have no idea how I will be spending Father's Day but one thing that is certain is that I’ll be collecting my eldest daughter from her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award weekend.
During my Service career, I used to feel that I was better at being a father as my time was more regimented and life was more black and white. The only drawback was going on detachment. But in hindsight it made me appreciate more what I had back at home.
Fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund
I have been fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund for some time now and so far I've completed the Edinburgh, Manchester, Chester, Paris and London marathons. I have also completed the Great North Run twice, the Blackpool Half Marathon and more recently the Jane Tomlinson Pennine 10K, which was held in my home town.
The RAFBF have been by my side on three occasions, the first time was when my daughter, Sian Olivia was stillborn in 2001 while I was serving in Cyprus. The RAF Benevolent Fund were there for me in assisting with her funeral costs. Then in 2006 my late wife passed away from skin cancer, leaving me on my own with three young children. The RAFBF stepped in and helped me yet again with the funeral costs.
The charity also helped me when I was being discharged from the RAF in July 2007 and had nowhere to live. They supported me in buying a house which helped to give me and my family some stability. I was then able to find a job.
I am now working in the Prison Service, have my own house and living with my fiancée, our daughter and my other children and I'm getting married later this year. All of this would not have been possible without the help and support of the RAF Benevolent Fund.
By Lee Cunliffe