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RAF rugby team take up challenge

The RAF Spitfire 7s rugby team is taking on an ambitious 500 mile cycle challenge to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Flight Lieutenant Nick Monahan tells us more.

Flight Lieutenant Nick Monahan with RAF rugby 7s director Squadron Leader Tim Barlow

I'm an instructor on the Puma helicopter for 33 Squadron.  I have never really grown out of playing soldiers as a child, and once I'd watched Top Gun, the RAF seemed the perfect option. Of course the reality is very different!

I've played rugby practically all my life, and for the RAF since joining university in 1999. I’ve predominantly played as a centre or wing, though seem to play as a prop in sevens.

We all wanted to do something to support the RAF Benevolent Fund. The charity is a natural choice for those of us serving in the RAF. There are so many great people involved with the charity and we will always maintain our association and support.

There are many, many examples across every RAF station of families and individuals that have been helped by the RAF Benevolent Fund, though it may not be immediately apparent. Other projects such as the Airplay programme are providing every day benefits to all of our personnel.

Our challenge will set out from Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow on 4 May, during the penultimate leg of the IRB 7s Series. A week later the final leg is being staged at Twickenham Stadium in London.

We plan to arrive on 11 May having cycled the entire distance between the two during the week! We're planning detours to Derwent Dam, between Derwent and Ladybower Reservoirs, to honour the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid (they practiced over the reservoir’s dam) and Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

We're also planning stops at RAF Leeming, RAF Benson and for a training day with Leicester Tigers. Overall it works out at over 500 miles. Primarily the challenge is a force development event for the team though we hope to raise as much as possible, and the more publicity we get the better.

By Nick Monahan

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