This month ninety-five-year-old Vera Clachers received her war medal, 73 years after it was awarded to her, at our annual reception held at Edinburgh Castle.
The Fund's Chief Executive, Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, read the citation before 17-year-old Air Cadet Samantha Terry, from 870 (Dreghorn) Squadron, handed over the medal in a surprise ceremony, watched by two more Second World War veterans Arthur Reid and Alastair Lamb and her daughter Lorraine MacLeod.
Vera, who lives in Corstorphine, said: "What an honour and a complete surprise after all I was just doing my duty. I’m still very proud to have passed out as a Leading Aircraft Women and to have served as one of the first female electrical engineers."
Vera Clachers (nee Kendrew) joined up in 1942, aged just 19 and became an electrical engineer. She worked on different aircraft types, including Lancaster bombers, in the latter stage of the war and up until 1949. After completing training at RAF Melksham as a LAC(W), Vera’s first posting was to RAF North Coates, but she also served near Cologne, in Germany, dissembling aircraft and on administrative duties.
Vera was awarded the War Medal following the end of the war but, like so many of her humble comrades, simply forgot about it and got on with her life, forgetting to apply to receive it.
Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, Chief Executive at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "It was an absolute honour to be able to present Vera with her medal – an honour which was richly deserved even though it was decades late! Vera’s humility is common among her generation of brave men and women who quietly answered their country’s call and did their duty without a second thought to the personal cost.
"Which is why I am proud to lead a charity which ensures that that debt to society is repaid. The RAF Benevolent Fund has stood side by side with RAF personnel, past and present, for almost 100 years, ensuring whenever they face hardship or suffering we are there with them."
The Edinburgh Castle reception is an annual event, sponsored by Leonardo (Edinburgh), held to share stories of the charity’s work throughout the year supporting members of the RAF Family. Chris Davies, whose husband Flt Sgt Ady Davies was killed when the Nimrod he was flying in exploded over Afghanistan in 2006, spoke about the support the RAF Benevolent Fund had given her family.
Chris said: "It was enormous how much of a pressure that was taken off by the RAF Benevolent Fund. One minute I had everything, and life was as it should be, the next it was all gone.
"The money was there instantly, I had that cushion. I had a mortgage to pay, I had to put food on the table, and the children’s education to support. Worries about money in ordinary life is very stressful, but even more so when you are facing the loss we were.
"The Fund supported us, no questions asked and without any complications. It just took the pressure off and made such a huge difference to us as a family."