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"Don't be ashamed or embarrassed, the Fund is there to help"

For Mina Tilt, of Birmingham, life has been full of adventures alongside tragedies that will stay with her forever. In this blog, we hear how the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund has supported her and her family throughout.

Ernest and Notburga photographed for their engagement

Mina's father, Squadron Leader Ernest Tilt, born in 1908, joined the Royal Air Force at just 17-years-old. An aviation accident early on in his career, as a test pilot, resulted in him breaking his neck and being declared unfit for flying. The rest of his service during the Second World War was carried out as an engineer working on Lancasters and after the War he served tours in both Germany and Canada.

It was in 1954 that he came to meet an operatic singer named Notburga.  She was selling her tape recorder and advertised it in her local paper; Ernest responded to the advert. He bought the tape recorded and the pair struck up a friendship, marrying just two years later.

His wife, Notburga, was born in Austria in 1923. She was just 15-years-old when Hitler annexed Austria and Notburga became a member of the Austrian Resistance.  Tragically, two of her uncles consequently ended up in concentration camps.  In 1948, she moved to the United Kingdom, despite speaking very little English, and married Ernest six years later.  Their daughter, Mina, was born in 1962.

It was in 1966, after Ernest was made redundant, that the RAF Benevolent Fund was first able to assist with a small grant to help alleviate some of the pressures that the family faced at the time.

In 1981, the couple were on holiday in Vienna when Ernest passed away unexpectedly; Mina was just 19-years-old. Once again, the RAF Benevolent Fund was able to help the grieving family, providing financial assistance and organising the repatriation.

In 2012, the Fund was also able to help Notburga, a widow and living alone in Birmingham, as she was struggling to pay the service charge on her property. 

Sadly, just two years later, Notburga passed away and the Fund was able to help Mina meet the costs of her mother's funeral expenses.

Mina, now 54, said: "I felt awful at the time, to be in a situation where I was unable to pay for the funeral. It was an incredibly stressful situation and I just kept thinking, what am I going to do?

"I felt as though I was letting my parents down in some way but when I found out the RAF Benevolent Fund were able to help, it alleviated a lot of those stresses."

Urging others to approach the RAF Benevolent Fund should they find themselves in need, Mina said: "Don't be ashamed or embarrassed, the Fund is there to help. My dad served his country for 31 years and in the end it felt right that the RAF Benevolent Fund were the ones to help my family.

"There are times where you can give, like my mother when she donated funds from the sales of her books and talks, and there are times when you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to accept help."

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