RAF children served up an ace day out at Wimbledon
Airplay members from four RAF stations were guests of honour at The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) recently, as part of their summer activities. The youngsters, aged between 10 and 14, were treated to a coaching session led by Wimbledon's head coach as well as a behind the scenes tour of No.1 Court.
The children, from RAF High Wycombe, RAF Wyton, RAF Henlow and RAF Cosford, all have one or two parents currently serving in the RAF, and belong to Airplay, a youth support service, provided by the Fund. The club gives children a place to go to be with their peers, and also to access support from trained youth workers should they need it.
The visit was organised by the Wimbledon Foundation, which supports the Airplay project. Since 2015, the Fund has received £140,000, including £30,000 in July which is the second instalment of a three-year pledge to support Airplay, with a total value of £110,000.
Twenty-two children and their youth workers enjoyed an interactive history lesson, learning about the origins of the most famous tournament in the world. The youngsters were then treated to a visit to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum followed by a chance to experience for themselves the arena of No.1 Court. AELTC head coach Dan Bloxham led the youngsters in a group tennis practice, teaching them about movement on court and using the racquet.
Eight-year-old Ava said: "I enjoyed playing tennis and hitting the ball to each other. It was great fun!"
Nine-year-old Charlie said he enjoyed meeting up with other Airplay groups.
Jason Shauness, Director of Fundraising and Communications at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "The smiling faces say it all! Thanks to the Wimbledon Foundation for their enduring support of the Airplay project. As a charity which receives no Government funding, grants like this help to give us the security we need to continue providing vital support to young people growing up within the RAF Family."
Lauren Palmer, Grants Officer at the Wimbledon Foundation, said: "As a funder, we strive to support charities and community groups in as many ways as we can beyond financial support so we were delighted to welcome young people from Airplay, a service we have supported for many years, to the All England Club. We hope that their day discovering some of the history and magic of Wimbledon will have inspired them in all they can achieve."
The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF's leading welfare charity, providing practical, emotional and financial assistance to serving and veteran RAF personnel and their families.