There is no doubt, 2020 was a challenging year but despite all the adversity presented to us in 2020, on our website we shared some great news, even greater stories and marked very significant RAF anniversaries.. We challenged ourselves once more and put together a list of our top 10 blogs of the year.
1. On Battle of Britain Day, we shone a spotlight on the unsung heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice 80 years ago. As we marked the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day at the former Chain Home radar site, Bawdsey Radar in Suffolk, we remembered all of those who served behind the scenes during the Second World War.
2. Earlier this year, ex-serviceman Andrew Stevens explained how the RAF Benevolent Fund's support allowed him to manage his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and continue his job as a key worker delivering groceries in his community through the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Yian was officially diagnosed with autism in May this year, but his mum Sgt Gemma Luxton began to notice changes in his behaviour in April 2018, such as him being unable to communicate or connect with others. Thanks to a grant from the RAF Benevolent FundYian now has support from a specially trained assistance dog called Coco.
4. Delays in repairs left RAF veteran Arthur Northfield having to wash over a sink before we stepped in to provide a grant to replace his boiler. The 96-year-old had been waiting for six weeks for a promised repair to take place until his son Micky spotted the Fund's advert and realised his father was eligible for support.
5. Back in August, the Queen’s Colour Squadron (QCS) pulled a BAe 146 aircraft to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The 25-man team,undertook the challenge of pulling the 28-tonne aircraft 1km along the runway at RAF Northolt, raising more than £1,000 for the Fund. The challenge was organised as part of our Hardest Day Challenge.
6. The world's first integrated system of air defence, the Dowding System, was the air defence network used during the Battle of Britain. It has been credited for giving Britain a critical advantage over Germany, as they fought it out in the sky during the summer and the autumn of 1940. The Dowding System brought together the technology available at the time, the ground defences, and fighter aircraft as well as other elements of the defence network such as searchlights into one system.
7. In 2011 Luke Wigman was struck by an IED while mentoring Afghan soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. Fast forward to 2020 and the former RAF Senior Aircraftman joined 41 runners in one of the world’s most gruelling running events – completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Luke is the first Brit to complete the World Marathon Challenge twice.
8. As the nation stopped to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, we spoke to RAF veteran Reg Lawrence about what he remembers from the historic day. Just a teenager at the time, Reg remembers being called into the school hall with the rest of the pupils where he was told the good news.
9. Cumbrian writer Matthew Wignall won a national competition to write an audio drama based on the Battle of Britain. The competition, organised by the RAF Benevolent Fund, was launched to commemorate the 80th anniversary of one of the most important battles of the Second World War.
Mr Wignall, whose own grandfather, Robert William Gibson, served as a wireless and electrical mechanic at RAF Silloth during the war, won with his play entitled A Gingerbread Man in the RAF. The drama follows the fortunes of Pilot Officer Gallimore and the implications his actions have for a modern-day couple.
10. Plane-mad Jacob Newson and his dad Andy walked 30 miles to raise money for the Fund. Their route began at the former site of RAF Manston in Kent and finished at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne near Folkstone.
The pair, who to date have raised around £30,000 for the our charity, had originally planned to walk 25km from a Second World War crash site in Belgium to Dunkirk in May, but this has been delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.