Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page. Every penny donated in sponsorship up to £5000 will be matched by Microsoft UK under the firm's superb employee matched-giving scheme.
One of the less enviable products of a 15-year military aviation career, especially in the fast-jet community, is the loss of friends and colleagues to flying accidents in both peace and wartime. There was Stan, the stand-out star of our officer training course, killed less than a year later on a Hawk orientation flight whilst awaiting pilot training. Or Nate, one of the few people who could happily pass a wintry Sunday afternoon on Quick Reaction Alert discussing the vagaries of the Tornado's radar who left a wife and long-sought after 5-year old son when his jet clipped a remote mountain ridge. And Samson, our allied exchange officer whose host nation jet disintegrated in air combat training, leaving his wife to raise two fantastic sons on the cusp of college educations.
Thankfully, such stories are becoming rarer. Casual visitors often remark upon the immense professionalism, dedication and tangible joie de vivre that permeates the men and women of today's fighter squadrons, despite the subliminal ever-present risk. These are curious people that live life in the present, extracting new learning and the maximum possible reward from each flight, each day. And it's precisely why the loss of such characters leaves irreplaceable holes in the lives of family, friends and loved ones.
This is where the RAF Benevolent Fund comes in, lending practical, emotional and financial support to veterans and the families of those killed in service in the air or on the ground . In recent times, this has included a number of RAF Regiment personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can learn more about their excellent work supporting the sons of an aviator killed in a C-130 Hercules crash here https://www.rafbf.org/how-we-help/who-we-have-helped/the-nicholson-brothers.
So on 3rd March, when I reach the 11-mile point and I'm cursing my lack of training once more, it will be the memories of the good days with Stan, Nate and Samson and thoughts of their families that carry me through to the line. Please give what you can spare.
*Stan, Nate and Samson are fictional names for real people, changed to respect family privacy.