The RAF Disabled Holiday Trust, managed by the RAF Benevolent Fund, exists to ensure RAF veterans can enjoy a holiday, free from the worry of whether accommodation is accessible or not. In this guest blog we hear from John Allen who recently visited Tigh Mor in Scotland with his wife Vivian.
My late father served with 61 and 83 Squadron of Bomber Command surviving 13 missions over enemy territory in 1945. I followed in his footsteps and enlisted for nine years serving in ground comms, from 1965 to 1974.
Viv and I met whilst I was a young airman at RAF Locking, near Weston Super Mare, and we've now been married for 47 years. Viv was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2012 and sadly after an assurance that there was a one in 4,500,000 chance that it could return, Viv found out in 2016 that it had come back. At the same time I was being treated for PTSD, which had started some two years earlier and my dear son was informed he was losing his sight.
When Viv and I received the leaflets from the RAF Benevolent Fund regarding a break at Tigh Mor in Trossachs, Scotland, I became excited. Here was the perfect place for me to find peace and calm, and Tigh Mor has it in spades. A beautiful loch surrounded by rolling green hills, and immaculately kept gardens and walks. I was sometimes at the Lochside of Loch Achray at 6.30am, soaking up the peace and quiet knowing Viv was safely asleep. How I love this place.
My wife's peace and contentment were interrupted when I observed her achieving a lifelong ambition of catching a fish on the stocked pond. I watched the ghillie instruct her, and watched her thoroughly engage with her tutor until tight lines! She fought it, and eventually landed it, and the smiles and adrenaline rush lasted a while for days actually, until she cooked it for supper upon our return. The photograph of her catch with the ghillie is wonderful!
Life can be, and is for me, extraordinarily difficult at times but this break countered our issues head on and I cannot commend Tigh Mor too highly. The RAF Benevolent Fund's Disabled Holiday Trust provided a break which allowed us to approach a level of normality which we cannot enjoy on a daily basis and I am humbly grateful for what the Fund have done for us.
We in the RAF Family are extremely fortunate to have an organisation that cares so well for its veterans in time of need, and the RAF Benevolent Fund provided my wife and I first class respite in a time of desperate need. Tigh Mor was memorable for all the right five star reasons.
It is my earnest hope that all serving members of the RAF, its veterans and other supporters continue to support the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, so others in my position may enjoy relief when needed.
RAF Disabled Holiday Trust offers ex-RAF personnel and their dependents with severe disabilities self-catering holidays in the UK and overseas. The facilities are specially adapted and accessible allowing families to holiday together. If you would like more information please visit our RAF Disabled Holiday Trust site.