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RAF heroes honoured at Edinburgh Castle

RAF heroes of all generations came together at Edinburgh Castle on 31 March during an event held by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the RAF's leading welfare charity.

Among those attending were: John Cruickshank, 90, from Aberdeen (the last surviving member of the RAF to be awarded the Victoria Cross), Lancaster pilot Don Macintosh, also aged 90, from Crieff (who took part in famous RAF raids on the German Battleship Tirpitz), and Flight Lieutenant Andy Costin, currently serving at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray. Andy Costin was helped by the RAF Benevolent Fund after being injured in Afghanistan in 2008.

Group Captain Bob Kemp, Regional Director for the RAF Benevolent Fund said: "It has been my great honour to lead the tributes to our veterans tonight, who have all served their country with such distinction, whether fighting in the Second World War or in war-fighting operations today. 

"Flight Lieutenant Costin raised over £6000 for us last year, despite being badly injured in an IED blast in Afghanistan. It was an enormous pleasure to invite John Cruickshank VC to present Andy with the RAF Benevolent Fund poignard in recognition of this outstanding achievement.

"Without this kind of superb fundraising the RAF Benevolent Fund simply could not provide the kind of support we do for serving and former RAF personnel. We thank Andy and all our guests for their on-going support of our work."

In the last year the RAF Benevolent Fund has spent £835,000 helping veterans and their families in Scotland and £463,000 supporting other Scottish charities. The RAF Benevolent Fund has also over spent £220,000 in grants to RAF personnel serving in Scotland. That’s over £1.5 million pounds.

In addition, as part of its Airplay youth support project, the charity will spend over £100,000 providing trained youth workers on Scottish RAF stations over the next year and potentially a further £275,000 depending on the outcome of the RAF’s basing strategy.

Air Commodore Paul Hughesdon, Director of Welfare and Policy for the RAF Benevolent Fund explains: "A key part of our work with the RAF family is maintaining the morale of those serving today. Airplay is our UK-wide project to provide most RAF stations with vital youth support in the form of brand-new sports and play facilities plus trained youth workers. We are already funding youth workers at three Scottish RAF stations, including RAF Kinloss until its closure. 

"This kind of support enables RAF community teams to offer the range of safe, stimulating activities for young people which we know RAF families are so keen to receive. In this way we can relieve some of the pressure on hard-pressed RAF parents at home and on the front line.

"Airplay is only one element in the range of care we offer to everyone in the RAF family who is in financial distress. The project sits alongside the other help we offer with disability, mobility, housing, financial need, property repairs, welfare breaks and many other areas."

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