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Jacqui receives award from Prince Harry

Jacqui Thompson's husband, Gary, was killed while serving with the RAF Regiment in Afghanistan. Since then she has worked tirelessly for the RAF Benevolent Fund. To recognise her achievements Jacqui received an award from Prince Harry at RAF Honington. Jacqui tells us more in this blog.

Jacqui (centre) receiving her commendation from Prince Harry

I lost the most amazing person I had ever met, my husband and best friend Gary Thompson. Gary was a reservist with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and he was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2008. He was a proud RAF Regiment gunner, and very proud to serve his country.

My life and the lives of our five daughters changed forever when I heard the heartbreaking and devastating news that Gary had been killed. His landrover had hit a landmine killing Gary and his friend, Livi. The driver and commander survived but they were severely injured. Gary was 51.

The RAF Benevolent Fund immediately came to our assistance and helped my daughters financially through university. That prompt and unconditional help and support cemented blocks for us to rebuild our lives. Knowing the RAF Benevolent Fund is there for us gives me such a sense of peace for our future.

I know and understand a little of what happens to a family when, for whatever reasons, the foundations of their family life are shattered. I know that military charities are not only vital but crucial. I hate the thought of our serving, ex-serving military personnel or their families dealing with a crisis on their own.

This is why I have felt so driven and passionate to do some fundraising. I wanted to show, not only my appreciation to the RAF Benevolent Fund for their incredible support to my family, but also show my support and gratitude to our serving personnel and their families.

I was a military wife for such a short time but I had a brief insight into the lives and difficulties of our military wives and their families.

I have such respect and admiration for their commitment, dedication and loyalty, and I wanted in some small way to show my appreciation and let them know there are people who care.

I also wanted to show my support to The National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) which is also very important to me as Gary’s name is on the Armed Forces Memorial Wall.  I feel a part of me is on that wall as well, among so many of our brave and courageous men and women.

I was told a few days before that I was going to be awarded the RAF Regiment's Commandant's General's Commendation by Prince Harry at RAF Honington on 10 February.

I was very nervous and extremely honoured, but he very kindly congratulated me and said "well done". It was such a pleasure to meet him.

I still feel overwhelmed and extremely proud of my Commendation, but deep down I will always feel that I have not done enough to deserve this level of appreciation for the thanks always shown to me whenever I help these wonderful charities.

It gives me such a deep sense of purpose and fulfilment helping these military charities. It helps me to fill a void that has been left in my life. It makes me happy to know that I am a very small cog in a great mechanism that offers hope and quality of life to those facing unexpected events.

Gary is never out of my thoughts. I still love and miss him so much, he was such a caring and giving person. Gary was always the first to offer assistance or the first to help out in any way he could. He would be so proud of his girls and I know he would be so happy and proud that I am doing something that I love and care about passionately.

By Jacqui Thompson

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