For Sandra Armstrong and her family, the RAF Benevolent Fund has been a lifeline more than once.
In 2001, the Llandudno grandmother’s daughter died suddenly, aged just 21, of an undiagnosed heart condition. Sandra and her husband Godfrey were left to bring up Mandy’s two young children, then just three months and three years old. The couple had been looking forward to their retirement and being able to enjoy a quieter pace of life but the past 14 years have been dedicated to raising their grandchildren, Liam and Ella.
When Sandra and Godfrey’s home needed emergency roof repairs there was no extra money in their already stretched budget. Godfrey completed two years’ National Service in the RAF in the 1950s and this service to his country meant he was eligible for support from the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.
Sandra said: "The things that we have had done we could not afford to have done ourselves, with two teenagers to bring up. I hate to think where we would be without the help of the Fund."
In 2008 the Fund was able to help Sandra’s mother Eunice Phillips by virtue of her service during the Second World War in the WAAF. After reluctantly moving into a care home, Eunice began to feel rather withdrawn from friends and family and to alleviate that isolation the Fund assisted with the cost of installing a telephone line.
Sadly just a year later, the Fund was asked to help Eunice’s family to meet the costs of her funeral expenses.
Sandra explained: "My mother, Eunice Phillips, served as a WAAF during the Second World War. She was one of those people who thought she would never die so she didn’t leave any provision for her funeral.
"The RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in and paid the remainder of the costs. That was really helpful because at that time we really did not have any funds left. The RAF Benevolent Fund were very obliging."
Godfrey added: "I am very proud of my service. I think the RAF Benevolent Fund's grant is exceedingly generous. I would never ask for charity but Sandra said this money is there for people like me who have done their bit."
In addition to the assistance provided to Sandra and her family, the RAF Benevolent Fund helps with a range of issues including financial assistance with things like top-up fees for a dignified retirement, help to fund domiciliary care, providing mobility aids or advice and advocacy. The Fund’s new Individual Support Service addresses the needs of the RAF Family head on, providing tailored assistance to the vulnerable, isolated or bereaved.
Paul Hughesdon, Director of Welfare and Policy at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "Too often, RAF veterans simply don’t know that help is at hand. Sometimes they think that their years in National Service weren’t enough to be eligible for consideration, that there is always someone more deserving than them, or they don’t want to trouble anyone with their problems.
"But the message of our campaign is simple: If you or your partner were in the RAF and are in financial need, or you need advice and guidance, we will try to help."
If you know of someone who might be in need of some help please call 0800 169 2400 or visit our help page.