The best gifts we have given this year

Image of Ian Johnson

We asked our Welfare team to tell us about the grants they’ve made this year which have had a huge impact on the RAF Family. It turns out that sometimes it’s the smallest things which make a difference. Like a laptop, funding for a taxi or dipping your toes in the sea…

Ian Johnson: “We have agreed funding to adapt the kitchen of a 96-year-old Second World War veteran who flew 77 missions between 1944-45. He lives in his own home but was struggling to prepare meals due to the height of his oven, we have funded replacing the kitchen so the oven and work surfaces are the right height for him, as well as a new washing machine.”

Sue Grogan: “This former RAF driver was long-term unemployed, due to a spell in prison. He has had to live separately from his wife and son. Life was difficult.

“The Fund has helped to buy him a laptop so he is now able to research driving work, and new driving boots and a jacket. He has had a job offer but was unable to take it due to not having the digital tachograph card, which he could not afford. I approached his caseworker and RAF Association have paid for this.

“The most fantastic thing for me, and the best present, has been watching him change. His confidence has increased, he is literally walking taller and you can see that he now has hope. Joint working at its absolute best to improve the lives of all.”

Cath Moffat: “Mr H is 87 and lives independently on his own, providing care support to his daughter. This year he has had an ulcer on his leg which has made it difficult for him to walk into the local town; this has meant that he has become more isolated as he hasn’t been able to regularly meet his friends and also he has missed his daily exercise. Our regular financial assistance grant means that he has been able to afford to take a taxi to meet up with friends and this has greatly improved his overall wellbeing.”

Catherine Argent: “Our activities programme went one step further with Mr B who served for 13 years in the RAF and has been a regular visitor at Princess Marina House (PMH) for welfare breaks since 2016. Mr B used to love being on the beach and going in and out of the sea. For the last 12 years, since being confined to a wheelchair, he had not been able to go on the sand or in the water, just watch from the promenade. During his stay in August staff at PMH made, in his words, ‘my dream come true’.

“Two members of staff, with two more behind him holding a chair, took Mr B to the beach and, with one on each arm, they walked him two steps and then sat , two steps and then sat, until they reached the sea where they placed the chair in the water and he sat down. He sat for half an hour with the water lapping around his toes and his assistance dog swimming by his side – for the first time ever. That half hour meant everything to him. His assistance dog is going blind and for Mr B to see him so happy, before he loses him to retirement in October, made him so happy. Mr B said that for him and his dog to be in the sea together was beyond his wildest imagination.”

RAF Benevolent Fund

Image: Ian Johnson

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