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How my Twitter followers inspired my fundraising challenge for the RAF Benevolent Fund

Jon NixonCommanding Officer Jon Nixon is planning to run the 2015 London Marathon to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. He’s set himself a fundraising target of £15,000. It was Jon’s Twitter followers who inspired him to take up this challenge and in this guest blog Jon tells us more.

I was 19 when I started my training to become a pilot in the Royal Air Force. I became a Tornado pilot in 1997 and spent two years as a Tornado GR4 display pilot, where I was deployed on operations and training exercises across the world from Canada to Corsica and from America to Afghanistan.

I currently have the privilege of being the Commanding Officer of No XV(R) Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth with the responsibility for training all Tornado GR4 aircrew within the RAF.

I've been involved in various fundraising activities over the years and I enjoy setting myself difficult challenges. In the past this has included playing 100 holes of non-stop golf and being involved in a 24-hour ten-pin bowling match.

More recently I raised £500 for the RAF Benevolent Fund after an impulsive decision late one evening. I'd left my car 19km away from my home during an evening out. I decided that the best way to collect the car would be to run and get it the following morning but only if friends, family and my Twitter followers would sponsor me to do it.

Over the four hours before I set out, I learnt more about the power of social media; many of my followers were glued to the story as it unravelled.

As a serving airman, I recognise the incredible work that the RAF Benevolent Fund does in supporting serving and ex-serving member of the RAF and their families. So I'm very keen to do my bit for this amazing charity.

My Twitter challenge

So how did it come about that I'd be running the 2015 London Marathon for the RAF Benevolent Fund? Well, I was trying to drum up some extra Twitter followers so that I could spread the word of the great work that my colleagues do at XV(R) Squadron. I published a tweet saying that I'd like to get to 1500 followers (an extra 100) by the following week.

My tweet started to gain momentum and I suddenly thought that I could use the idea to help me raise some funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Setting an overly ambitious target, I tweeted that if I got to 2000 followers by midnight on 1 February, I would run the 2015 London Marathon and raise £15,000 for the Fund. My followers quickly raced towards 2000 and by the stroke of midnight I'd passed that number, gaining more than 800 new followers.

To help me raise my fundraising target I'm hoping to get the whole of RAF Lossiemouth and the local community behind me and hopefully my Twitter followers will support me as well.

In 2015 XV(R) Sqn will be 100 years old and I can't think of a better way to celebrate this milestone than to achieve my life-long ambition of running a marathon while at the same time raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

By Jon Nixon

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