Jacqui Thompson's husband, Gary, was killed in Afghanistan, while serving with the RAF Regiment. Since then Jacqui has dedicated herself to fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund, and this work has been recognised with a 'Soldiering On' award on Sunday. Jacqui tells us more in this blog.
I couldn't believe I had been nominated for a 'Soldiering On' award, even when I was travelling to the event ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria it still hadn't really sunk in.
The introductions started with a short film clip from each award winner, then it finally hit home and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.
I can't tell you how nervous I felt especially listening to all the other award winners – they are truly awe-inspiring individuals.
Air Marshal Andrew Pulford did a fantastic speech about the importance of the RAF Benevolent Fund and the RAF family before presenting me with my award.
I was shaking as I made my way to the stage to collect my award but Air Marshal Andrew Pulford was very gracious and quickly made me feel at ease.
I remember looking out into the audience trying to spot where my five girls were sitting. I finally spotted them standing up looking at me with so much pride and I could see their dad in each one of them.
I felt so overcome and really had to battle to control my feelings. I know they asked me to say a few words but I really cannot remember what I said - I hope I did say thank you!
I felt like Gary was on the stage with me with that proud look on his face always encouraging me and telling me how much he loved me. I felt like he was gently guiding as he always did – we all did this together as a family.
I was so deeply moved by each of the award winners and I'm proud I had the privilege to have a chat to most of them. I really have to thank the Soldiering On awards for a truly memorable and wonderful evening.
It's outstanding what they have done to highlight the incredible work of all the military charities.
By Jacqui Thompson