Last month we launched an appeal to raise £360,000 to build two much-needed seaside apartments for RAF families. Long tours of Afghanistan, separation and frequent moves add to the pressures of family life and many RAF families just need a few days away together to recuperate. Seaside Cottages Manager, Shirley Steeples, tells us why we urgently need to build two new apartments this year.
Today I received a lovely letter from a young family with a disabled child telling me about the most amazing holiday they had just taken.
For the first time in years they had been able to spend time together without the pressures of every day Service life. Their daughter was able to play on the beach and they even enjoyed a few local outings.
Their holiday was actually at the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Shencot house and it reinforced to me why we need to provide more accommodation for RAF families, both serving and retired, with young families.
There are many RAF families and couples in desperate need of a break away from their working environment On top of the every day pressures of family life, many of our applicants have returned from long tours of Afghanistan, some have faced the upheaval of constant moves while others are under pressure because they are simply not spending enough time together as a family.
Many can not afford to go away during expensive school holidays. In fact, during the 2013 and 2014 school holiday periods demand was so high that despite only allocating five-day breaks we were only able to meet the needs of 18 families - leaving 40 disappointed.
It's my job to go through the applications and it can be heart breaking turning people away.
The addition of two new seaside apartments would mean that we can accommodate so many more deserving families.
Our aim is to convert an area of Princess Marina House, our short break home, into two self- contained apartments.
Both apartments will be wheelchair accessible with an overhead hoist tracking system, a wet room and open plan living and dining space.
We've already raised nearly £200,000 but if you can support our appeal in any way please do – your money will help provide a haven for RAF families.
By Shirley Steeples