Gaz Ritchie is currently deployed to Afghanistan from RAF Lossiemouth, where his young son is participating in our Airplay project. While he's deployed, Gaz will be fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Gaz tells us more.
I'm serving with 12(B) Squadron, and we are deployed to Kandahar in support of Op Herrick.
Our role is to protect coalition ground forces through counter IED work through reconnaissance missions and on call support to troops in contact.
This helps to undermine the insurgency by showing them it is a fight they cannot and will never win.
This ultimately helps to foster a more stable and secure Afghanistan for its population and the safety of other societies blighted by terrorism.
As aircraft engineers, we maintain and repair the fleet of Tornado GR4s to enable our aircrew to carry out the mission.
We work round the clock for our whole tour ensuring maximum aircraft availability is achieved. My personal role is that of mechanical trade manager, ensuring engineering standards and activities are upheld in theatre.
While we’re out here we are going ahead with number of charity fundraising challenges and events. Our major events will be a Tornado aircraft pull and a charity horse race where our senior management will be the horses.
We also plan to give up one day’s operational bonus. As we are here for what is in effect an extra day on the 29 February we will give up one day’s bonus of £29 – that’s ‘£29 for the 29th'. We will have other smaller events going on such as $1 haircuts, a weekly football draw and a raffle towards the end of our tour.
We support the RAF Benevolent Fund for the amazing work it does for service families. The RAF Benevolent Fund is OUR family as RAF servicemen and women. Their tireless work in supporting those that require all sorts of advice and help is fantastic. The RAFBF have such a wide range of help and support - you never know when any one of us will need it.
The Airplay project at RAF Lossiemouth has been instrumental in making lives easier for the children, young people and families when personnel have been deployed.
Sarah, Karen and the other youth workers have been amazing. Their dedication to Airplay is incredible. The weekly drop-in for the young people gives the parent left at home a break and the young people a place to meet with others in the same situation.
The sessions are fun and take their minds off the fact that mum or dad is away. However, they also have the support there if they want to chat or discuss their thoughts away from home.
The team at Lossie are open and honest giving 100% support to young people and families alike. They organised a trip to London earlier this year which was excellent, well run and planned, always keeping the young people involved from the beginning.
My own son, Ben, had a magnificent time. I can't thank the team enough for giving him the opportunity. I hope the money we raise can go towards changing the lives of those who need it, plus helping the families of those deployed from Lossie.
By Gaz Ritchie