Team RAFBF Lossiemouth

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2015 – Our Year of Fun, Fundraising and Friends

2015 has been an incredibly busy year for Team RAFBF Lossiemouth. From April right through to December we were active with our own events and attending other events within the community whilst also supporting ongoing fundraising efforts by local supporters.

Throughout the year, XV(R) Sqn have been fundraising for the Fund, aiming to raise £15,000 as part of their golf (4)100th Anniversary celebrations and we have been thrilled to be able to cheer them along at various events, including their12046962_523043424563291_7422247394089923397_n 100 Rounds of Golf challenge, the Lossiethon and their Friends & Family afternoon. Their efforts have been amazing and we can’t wait for the final total to be announced early next year.


quiznight-BenElephantFanClubOur fundraising year started, as it usually does, in April with a collection to celebrate the RAF’s birthday on the first of the month. This year we held a bucket collection in the communal areas around the station including the Combined and Officers’ Mess, which was followed by a quiz night in the Beach Bar with our ever popular quizmaster, Stuart Smylie. Both events successfully kicked off our year of fundraising by adding just over £600 to our ongoing total.London (2)
Also in April, Pauline and I were proud to attend The RAF Benevolent Fund Awards in London, as our team had been nominated in the best fundraising team category. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet some inspiring people and hear stories of challenges and fundraising carried out by supporters and beneficiaries of the Fund. Whilst there, Pauline and I took the opportunity to visit the Bomber Command Memorial which is maintained by the RAFBF. It is a wonderfully evocative memorial and a very peaceful place to say thank you to so many who have given up their lives for ours.

May saw us attend our first event, the annual vintage rally day held in Forres. This event is always a little chilly and sometimes a bit wet, but then we Scottish fundraisers are uc2csponors (1)sed to that and it’s always a great way to brush up on our banter for the year ahead. Charlotte led a great day, but with poor weather, only £86 was raised.  Our little fundraising team came of age in 2015 when we c2csponors (1)organised and carried out our very own challenge event. Starting birth as a nugget of an idea in a madman’s head, Cairngorm to Coast grew into a gruelling 66 mile hike and bike challenge from Cairngorm to RAF Lossiemouth.

Not daunted by our laac-rental-logock of experience, our enthusiasm and thirst for learning enabled uDallas Designs Logos to put on the first event of this kind in Moray. We were thrilled and overwhelmed with the support we received from Outfit Moray, Bike Revolution, Windswept Brewing Company, Dallas Designs and Arnold Clark van hire in Elgin. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to put the event on. The day itsec2csponors (2)lf was perfect as far as weather conditions went, with sunshine and light winds but the challenge turned out to be far more punishing than anyone imagined, with only two people completing the whole event and four others managing to reach the finish line, having been swept up from before the halfway c2c (8)change over point. C2C 15 was most definitely a practice run and we are already in the depths of planning for C2C 16 which includes a change of route and a gold, silver and bronze entry option. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors we raised £5000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which we hope to match in 2016.

Armed Forces Day is celebrated every year in June and this year we were invited to attend the parade in Keith. Armed Forces Day is always a lovely opportunity for us to meet up with fellow military fun11141148_482618175272483_4915199129428368989_ndraisers and to catch up with our local Cadet Squadrons who are always great 1507677_482620488605585_2851142086012287900_nsupporters of the fund. Despite a medical emergency, which saw a member of our team being attended to by the Red Cross ambulance crew (Rob Cox cut his finger on a coconut and deemed himself unfit for duties until he had been patched), the day was a success with over £260 being made. Our tent was also turned in to a hospital tent while we offered shade to the various cadets who were overcome with the heat whilst on parade. Thankfully we had lots of sweet chocolate bars on hand to help them recover.

There was no rest for the wicked as an extremely busy July started off with a bang at RAF Lossiemouth Family and Friends Day. Blazing sunshine and a stiff breeze left Pauline, Charlotte, Stew, Craig and Sam slightly singed around the edges but they did raise around £200, which seems a fair exchange! The following weekend Stew, Mel, Craig and Charlotte attended our first Seafest 11695894_491110034423297_5215563988886661675_n (1)Lossiemo11403373_488666674667633_2868551443025200223_nuth event which drew in the local crowds thanks to some lovely sunny weather. As usual our coconut shy elicited much amusement among young and old and we managed to raise just under £200. The team was delighted when the Fund’s Edinburgh office asked us if we would like to attend the East Fortune Airshow on their behalf and so it was with much excitement that Pauline, Charlotte, Craig, Rob and I headed off for an adventure in Edinburgh at the end of July. Stew met us there on the day and we were soon set up with our 2015-07-25 09.51.12merchandise and coconut shy. With so many children (and grown-ups) to amuse, Ben Elephant was in high demand and very popular with all our visitors. We were also thrilled to be joined by Elizabeth Hall and her gorgeous vintage Singer Le Mans, Chattie, as part of her “Where They Served” tour in memory of her father. Our excitement was almost 2015-07-25 19.16.55uncontainable when we discovered we had brought in just over £1000 for the Fund, even the Red Arrows could not beat that! It was a quick tidy up and a long trip back Wheretheyserved (2)home ready to meet up with Elizabeth and Chattie at RAF Lossiemouth the next day for her tour of the station and a visit with II (AC) Sqn and Spookworks. It really was an honour to have been part of Elizabeth’s mammoth journey and we do wish her all the very best.


As fast as July ended, August began with the Lossiemouth raft race on the first weekend of the month. This is always one of our most favourite events to attend, being the biggest on our “home pa2015-08-02 12.59.37tch”, plus the weather always seems to be good! A strong offshore wind hampered our brave LOS-OFFICIAL-20150802-0615-193entrants, but the victory Trophy was proudly taken by the RAF Lossiemouth Police Dog section, with our friends, The Spitfire Sirens, winning best dressed. All in all it was a very successful day with Charlotte, Mel, Rob and I, along with Dave working hard, we were able to add another £250 to our total for the Benevolent Fund. To finish August off, we held our own great British 2015-08-23 14.21.44Sunday Lunch themed barbecue at the Beach Bar in Lossiemouth. The weather gods were well and truly on our side and gave us beaming sunshine from beginning to end, encouraging many people to come down for a burger and a drink and to say thank you to all those who took part in the Battle of Britain 75 years ago. Their generosity meant the day raised over £650 which will go towards helping our veterans, young and old.


The year may have been drawing out but we continued to work hard and in September we were thrilled to be part of Sean Allerton’s Push 500 challenge when he did a 24 hour push at RAF Lossiemouth. Sean was well hosted by 51 Squadron and joined by local Paralympian curler, Jim Gault, as well as cadets from 446 (Forres) ATC Squadron and various members of RAF Lossiemouth. It was great to have first-hand experience of Sean’s ongoing personal fundraising challenge and we look forward to seeing him again in 2016. Hot on the heels of Sean’s push, it was straight into RAF Lossiemouth’s healthy working lives event on the following Monday, where we, along with various sections on station including The Hive, Clay Pigeon Shooting Club, Ski Club, Karting Team, Ped Flight, helped LochNess (2)prLochNess (4)omote health and welfare on the Station. Perhaps not healthy but certainly good for welfare, we held our second Great British Sunday lunch event that Saturday. This time held it was in the Combined Mess at RAF Lossiemouth and was kindly hosted and served by Catering Squadron who provided a delicious full Sunday roast followed by home-made desserts. We are always so grateful when ISS and personnel from RAF Lossiemouth get involved in fundraising and were delighted when their Sunday lunch raised yet another £200 for the LochNess (1)Fund. We hardly had time to let our lunches settle before we were heading off to Inverness to the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon running festival. This was the first year the Benevolent Fund had chosen the Baxters LocLochNess (3)h Ness Marathon as one of their annual challenge events, so it was great to be there alongside our Regional Fundraisers from Edinburgh rather than being by myself! It was a lovely sunny day which helped all our runners happily complete their respective races, including committee members; Charlotte, Craig and Pauline who took part in the 5k.

October saw us launching our Grand Raffle, which we felt was aptly named, with the top prizes coming from Thales, Outfit Moray and Windswept Brewing. We were confident of good ticket sales and, as alwa12112204_521758084691825_3129786555595094717_nys, we were delighted and thrilled with the level of support from our brilliant friends and local companies, and were able to offer a long list of desirable prizes, worthy of any grand raffle!

12208778_525595437641423_7972282002523363485_nWhen other fundraising teams may have been thinking about slowing down, we were still working hard; selling raffle tickets, attending local events and generally just being busy! November started with a talk at Elgin Rotary Club, where I went along with Mick McConnell, an RAFBF beneficiary, who recounted his life changing injury in Afghanistan. Mick was joined by his bomb disposal dog, Memphis, who had been at his side during the incident and who had now retired, along with Mick, to the sunny shores of Moray with the help of the RAF Benevolent Fund. That weekend we set out our stall at our local Co-op to sell our raffle tickets and then there was a 12301543_700642263369979_4708274095003995903_n couple of weeks’ grace before two long weeks of manic effort before we could finally put our feet up! In the last week of November I popped along to a ladies’ coffee morning and evening in the Officers’ Mess, Mel supported RAF Lossiemouth’s PEd Flight’s 24 hour fund12309952_531655933702040_2243212727087143426_oraising fitness challenge, Craig attended MT Section’s winter vehicle check (where they were raising funds for the RAFBF) Mel and Sam were at the Lossiemouth Christmas lights switch on with merchandise and, finally, Stew, Mel, Joanne and I spent the day at our local Tesco selling raffle tickets and merchandise.

There was no rest for the wicked as it was straight in to a local primary school Christmas Fayre where Sam, Pauline and 12316168_532261753641458_5505840327687677415_nCharlotte sold raffle tickets, a thank you lunch hosted by the RAFBF for XV(R) Sqn members and other local supporters of the Fund before our own Christmas quiz night at the Beach Bar. As always, our quiz night was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all with Mel, Rob and myself being on the winning 2015-12-05 20.44.08team! I can assure you, the Windswept Brewing beer prizes were well appreciated by that point and the quiz itself raised £155 as well as a large amount towards our grand raffle total. So finally it was time for our last fundraising task of 2015; the grand raffle draw. We must say a hearty thanks to the members of XV(R) Sqn who helped with the draw and everyone who purchased tickets. Huge congratulations to all 12376447_536382689896031_6014867401208840320_nour winners and thank you for helping us raise £1375 for the RAFBF. To round off a successful year, Mel, Rob and I attended the SNCOs’ & WOs’ Mess’ Christmas Quiz, where they had kindly chosen the RAF Benevolent Fund as their charity of the night raising just short of £80.

So what did 2015 mean to us? It was an incredible year; full of fun people and fundraising, just how we like it! It also meant £14081.29 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, bringing our grand total to just under £39k since Nov 2012, which makes us incredibly proud. Thank you to every single one of you who has been part of our brilliant year, we can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.

Finally, Team RAFBF Lossiemouth and I would like to wish all our friends, fellow fundraisers, RAFBF supporters and all RAF personnel past and present and their families very happy New Year and we wish you health and happiness the 2016.

Karen Cox, Chairman


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Great British Sunday Lunch

The Great British Sunday Lunch is a new initiative organised by the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The idea is to encourage people to host a Great British Sunday lunch on 13th September and invite family and friends to join gbsl_airfield_604_0them to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. The options are endless! You can host a simple roast at your home, or a BBQ in your garden? How about booking a local hall or asking a local organisation to help you out? Or a local pub/hotel or on your local RAF station. It is all about recognising and remembering the bravery and sacrifices made by ‘The Few’ in the Battle of Britain 75 years ago. You can sign up for a kit from the Benevolent Fund, which includes some bunting, invitations and placecards, as well as some game ideas to help raise a few pounds.

gbslFor our Great British Sunday Lunch, Team RAFBF Lossiemouth will be holding a BBQ at the Beach Bar in Lossiemouth on 23rd August, 12pm-5pm. We are being sponsored by MacLemans of Speyside Butchers in Lossiemouth, who will be supplying all our meat, and the Fleming family who own the Beach Bar.

Tickets are £5 a head with U12’s going free. There will also be a bouncy castle and free kids’ drinks.

Tickets can be purchased at:
Buccanneer Service Station, Elgin
MacLeman’s Butcher, Lossiemouth
Beach Bar, Lossiemouth
and via Karen on 07775 737647

To find out more on hosting your own Great British Sunday Lunch, or if you are interested in volunteering to help promote the event, please visit the RAF Benevolent Fund’s website.

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Lenny’s London Marathon

If you follow Team RAFBF Lossiemouth on Facebook or Twitter, you can’t have missed our coverage of Wing Commander Jon “Lenny” Nixon’s marathon for the RAF Benevolent Fund.   We were  thrilled to be able to support Lenny through his journey and during the race itself and are incredibly proud of his efforts, which raised over £8,000 for the Fund.

Sadly, Lenny has moved on to pastures “greener”.  We will miss his support of our Team at RAF Lossiemouth but wish him, and his lovely family, all the very best in their new adventures, we also look forward to hearing about his new fundraising ventures!

Here’s Lenny’s full marathon story, in his own words:

The legs are sore, the battery is flat and I feel emotionally drained as I slowly start to reflect on what I have just achieved over the past months ending with me crossing the finishing line on Sunday in the world’s greatest marathon, the London Marathon. I really don’t know where to start, I guess back to the beginning…

It only feels like yesterday that I was sat one quite Saturday evening, watching TV whilst being stuck 500 miles from home and having a nice glass of wine to keep me company. I can’t quite remember what the logic was that followed for the rest of the night, I think it started with an idea to get some more followers on Twitter than a colleague of 3mine. To do this, I offered to head out running the following day if I had so many extra followers. At some point during the night, I decided to offer to do a marathon, my first if I got a 2lot of new followers – which I never imagined I would get. And so it happened, I suddenly realised that perhaps with a little haste, and definitely without thought to the consequences, I was in for a marathon and fundraising for RAF Benevolent Fund.

In the days and weeks that followed and with a lot of help from a number of people within the RAFBF family, I B1_9LDzIQAAIRkdfound out that not only was I committed to running a marathon, but I had a place in the London Marathon. A dream come true, to do my No1 lifelong goal and in the world’s greatest event. Crash, I quickly came back to Earth with a bump. I ran my first ever half marathon and it was a massive struggle, crawling over the finish line in nearly last place and to be quite honest, I was lucky to finish. This was not going to be easy but of course not, otherwise everyone would run a marathon – the reality had hit. Luckily, I had a year to train for it.

Skip forward 6 months and so the training began, now I only had 6-months to train! I downloaded an App, entered my details, pressed a button and hey presto, you will run a marathon in 4 hours and 10 minutes. I bought some expensive trainers, some running gear and got started. Sounds easy, and at the beginning it was, although the App BhKtS5DCYAA1ELnsaid I was going to run nearly 1000 miles during the training plan, which did sound like quite a lot for someone who considered 5 miles to be long enough. Luckily, that half marathon early in 2014 BhKqn61CAAAVezzhad shown to me that I had to take training seriously, or I just would not crack it. As the winter went on, I tried to stick rigidly to the plan, running 3-4 times per week, gradually hitting the gym earlier and earlier as the distances increased. Most of the winter training was done on a treadmill, simply to cold, dark, wet and windy for me to run outside. Treadmill training is a challenge, and I never managed to beat 10 miles on it before dying of boredom.

Whilst all of this was going on, I had to think about my fundraising strategy, which with advice from the Ben Fund Team was formulated. In my mind it was all about increasing my Twitter following ( and in the end Facebook and a couple of other social media sites), then waiting until the right moment to start fundraising. We agreed this would be the New Year.

The New Year arrived, the running continued, although a bad cold and too many social events had put me behind the training plan in December. January was a good month and I tried a few ideas including a weekly £1/1-hour challenge to help raise funds. People had 1-hour to sponsor at least £1 and then a lucky winner, drawn at random received a gift (some gifts were better than others)! By the end of January, I had over £1000 raised, and had put in a lot of hours and miles on the treadmill. February was a hectic month, fundraising was amazing and the money B-2fIQ1WsAI5o01started to flood in, and work was manic too. As the Commanding Officer of a Tornado Squadron that was just about to become 100 years old (the Squadron not me), I had a lot to do and not much time. The Centenary celebrations were spectacular and fitting of such a fine squadron, the fundraising quickly went through £3000 and the running reduced due to lack of time. I did manage a half marathon training run in the London parks prior to hosting a Gala Dinner, my colleagues were thinking I was mad!

Fundraising in the final few weeks went well, and i had some amazing donations from some people who have never met me, simply they love aviation and the RAF, they followed me on Twitter and they wanted to support me and the RAF Benevolent Fund, incredibly generous people. Unfortunately I picked up an injury on my right lower leg, which started to hurt more and more after each run. With not much time left, I decided best to stop training, which I did for pretty much the whole of March after the run in the parks. I restarted in April, quickly built up to a 21 mile run and then started to back off for the big day. The fundraising had gone well by this point, my target was raised of £5000 and I happily cruised in to Marathon weekend without too much stress.

The marathon weekend itself was simply amazing. I flew down to London Friday night, up early On Saturday to hit 13534the Marathon Expo and registration. Registered, got my name added to the RAFBF running vest and headed back to the hotel to relax. My family came down to the hotel, we went to the movies, had a relaxing swim in the pool and out for pasta. I left them to the rest of the evening and I headed off CDgAHRuWgAA9rFxto bed but I didn’t get much sleep, way to excited! The marathon bus left the hotel at 0545 to beat the traffic, which it did and I arrived at the start with plenty of time to get ready. The winter training in North Scotland had prepared me well for the unseasonably cold London weather, not that any of us were complaining! The minutes past and before long it was time to strip off, put kit bags on the lorries so they would get to the finish line before the runners and that was it – ready to take my place in the greatest race!

I’m not sure of the exact number, but the red start in Greenwich Park must have 15-20000 people. The horn sounded and we were off and for the next 10 minutes we gently made our way to the start line like a mass crowd exciting a major sporting or music event. A few metres from the start line, everyone around finally started to break out in to a slow jog and by the time I crossed the line, I was in full running motion with my stopwatch started and image5knowing that the chip attached to my show had started my official time, and told those following me on-line that I was off! The first 5 miles were incredibly busy, with not much space to manoeuvre and I was more worried about tripping someone up or being tripped up than anything else. Pleasingly, I was keeping up with my planned pace, not too fast and before long I was around Cutty Sark. The next 5 miles also went to plan, the crowds got bigger, the image6cheers of ‘Come on Lenny’ increased and I looked up to see Tower Bridge just ahead. Running up the shallow incline to Tower Bridge I felt a small twinge of cramp come and go in my right calf – that wasn’t expected I thought to myself. Tower Bridge was incredibly with the noise, the sheer numbers of people and the emotion of being on Tower Bridge in the London Marathon. This was something I had watched on the TV most years since the BBC started covering the event, but never dreamed it would one day be me! As I came off Tower Bridge, another shout of ‘Lenny’, I turned and it was my wife and 3 children cheering me on, that was a huge boost!

I’m not sure how much further exactly I went, it wasn’t far and then I hit the first low point. I suddenly noticed that the other side of the road I was on had runners going the other way. Another runner next to me then said that it was insane that those runners had already run 22 miles and we weren’t even at 14. If I had been feeling fresh at this point, I might have not dwelled on his comment but I wasn’t in great shape. Despite not experiencing any serious cramp during training, I was now really starting to struggle with an increasing feeling that some serious cramps were not far away and in both legs. I remember getting to around 2/3rds distance and then the cramp kicked in – both calves, both thighs, the insides of my feet and all in the space of what I think was about 1 mile. I quickly realised that this was where I had to stop thinking about finishing times and start concentrating on finishing. I tried running through it, but the pain was getting excruciating, people all around me seemed to be stopping and stretching and I just didn’t know what to do for the best.

I am not ashamed of what followed, this was about getting to the finish line now. I slowed down and started to walk, image4as quick as I could. The cramps eased and after 200 metres or so I started to run again. This (according to my GPS watch) was for about 400 metres and then the cramps were back, so I walked again, then ran and so on. And that was pretty much what happened for the next two hours. Some people around me were stopping, the numbers at the St Johns Ambulance points were slowly increasing, some were running as slow as I walked. I seemed to have found myself a strategy to get to the end, but my next concern was how long would it take. The timing of the marathon hadn’t been great, the week immediately after was my last week in my current job and I needed to be in first thing Monday morning. So what? I started to worry that I would not finish in time to make my flight from Gatwick back to Inverness! I tried to increase the amount of running and reduce the amount of walking and although this had not been my plan, the miles gradually went by and I slowly realised that I wouldn’t miss my flight and that with a little determination that I could still finish in less that 5 hours, so as I passed 20 miles, I decided that should be the new goal.

The good thing about having your name on your shirt is that the encouragement becomes personal. As the crowds got bigger, the shouts of come on Lenny, run Lenny, keep going Lenny all increased in volume and number. They CDiPgLWW0AEPO-Treally helped to, although I did feel that I was getting more shouts than all around me, not sure if that was because how I looked, the fact I was running for RAFBF or what. Whatever the reason, the encouragement kept me going, got me doing far more and longer running periods and I was now passing 22 miles. I looked over the road, and as I had done earlier, I saw hundreds of people still running the other – I had a momentary thought of sympathy for them and then I started running, come 4 miles and 5 hours to beat.

Anyone who ran on Sunday will tell you that the crowds and the noise in the last 4 miles was unbelievable. People everywhere, cheering and shouting as much as they could. I could tell that I wasn’t alone in finding it tough, a lot of image3people around me looked in trouble and I guess all of us just knew we had come to far now and we image1just had to keep going. My thighs had stopped hurting, in fact they were feeling like two lumps of concrete, my calves were starting to feel a little better and as Forest Gump would say, ‘I just kept running’. Embankment was great, I concentrated onlooking as good as I could whilst passing the Ministry of Defence and the assembled RAFBF supporters. It was only as I crossed Parliament Square that I realised that I was going to make it and that I started to take more in – I had been pretty focused on keeping moving and not much else for a couple of hours by now. 800 metres to go quickly became 600, then past the Palace, and on to the Mall. Head up, RAFBF banner out, saviour the moment and over the finish line.

CDhzvjtW8AE5f_CTo describe that feeling, given the previous 8 miles is difficult to do. I didn’t know whether to smile or cry, I felt elated yet drained. I got my medal, a finishers bag, a photo and called my wife to say I’d finished. But when she answered, I couldn’t speak, the emotion of the whole thing had taken grip of me. I eventually managed a couple of shakes words that I would be 10 minutes and I’d be at the RV point. I got my bag, worked my way through the CDhsxIZW8AIY3G5 (1)crowds and managed to meet up with her and my 3 children, tears in my eyes and unable to speak. A family hug, a few deep breaths and slowly I started to calm down. I’m not embarrassed, that is what happened and perhaps in a small way can help you understand what doing a challenge like this can do to someone. We slowly made our way out of Horse Guards and we had a laugh after my 10 year old daughter had commented how sore her feet were from walking, ‘not sure Dad will appreciate that comment given he’s just run 26 miles’ replied my wife! And is if by magic, as I walked out of Horse Guards and on to Whitehall, that emotion was gone, the sense of achievement kicked in, the medal was around my neck and I would now be able to say I was a Marathon Man, the lifelong goal has been achieved, and importantly I had raised over £8000 for a charity that is very close to my heart.

I won’t lie, I’m not a marathon convert. Despite 1000 miles of training, on the day for a reason I still don’t really understand, I really had to battle against and not with my body. What if I’d picked a slower pace, what if I’d eaten something different, what if, what if…. I think some of the pictures tell a better story than this does. However, what I do know is that the day, the run, the people of London, the overwhelming emotions at the end, the generosity of hundreds of sponsors, the finishers medal and the fact I’ve done it will live with me forever.

I hope you are inspired. Find a challenge, something you’ve always wished you would do in your life, something that you want to do but know it is going to be very tough then do it. For me, it took a silly idea on Twitter and a promise 2015-04-27 14.19.42that I knew I could not break. I didn’t want to break it, I just needed the motivation. Be imaginative with your fundraising, get a following, get them to buy in to your dream, your ambition and understand what a big challenge this is going to be. And when it is getting tough – training or on the day, think about the people who your fundraising and your pain is going to help. For me it was ‘The Few’ that really got me across the finish line – I’m a pilot, I’m a British and very proud of being in the Royal Air Force and it has been an honour to share this emotional journey with the RAFBF family.

Lenny ‘The Marathon Man’ signing off.

We think you will agree  this is a very moving and evocative blog, it certainly caused a few tears when it was read at RAFBF HQ in London!  Lenny’s Just Giving page  is still open for donations, if you have been touched by his story or, if it has inspired you to take part in a challenge to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, please visit their Challenge Events page for some great ideas.

If you would like to contact Lenny personally to congratulate him on his efforts, you can find him on Twitter.

Safe travels Lenny and keep in touch!

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David Wilson – A Man of Many Challenges

In 2014, David Wilson took it upon himself to take on a list of challenges to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, starting with the Baxters River Ness 10k in the September.   In his blog, David tells us a little more about himself and why he has decided to throw himself at the wall for the RAFBF!

1463121_10152398737094128_445086746_nI am married to my wonderful wife Audrey and we have two beautiful girls Paige age 6 and Poppy age 4. We also have a cat Jessie and are about to have two little Old English Bulldogs about our family. Family means the world to me and their support whilst I am away on ops or just working here keeps me going every day. 10959641_10155288015270165_6521783422657041534_n

Whilst out at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, I was working on Chinook helicopters and especially supporting the MERT (medical emergency response team) which deals with battlefield casualties. I was in awe of the work they did but it got me wondering about who helped the guys after they came back from ops and were back in the UK. I knew about Help for Heroes, but felt I wanted to support a charity specific to me and the Royal Air Force.

I had heard of the RAF Benevolent Fund, but didn’t really know what who they were and what they did but after reading about the support they give to everyone, from WWII pilots to today’s RAF servicemen and their families, I thought I need to do my bit to help out, however small that may be.

1979619_10154703116350165_6350362050799477576_nLast year I decided to try running the Baxers Loch Ness 10k and from there I’ve enjoyed it, not as much fun in the winter I’ve found out, but nevertheless, I’ve had to get the miles in to prepare for 2015. The cycling challenges interested me as I’ve always loved cycling. I bought a road bike in 2008 and it still serves me well, I love cycling in the beautiful countryside of the Highlands and Moray (again more fun in the summer months!!!). The two cycling challenges I have set myself are further than I have cycled before, so I am pushing myself as hard as I can to support the RAFBF.544921_337636463103989_8262919289738017612_n

As well as the physical challenges, I would also like to help or get involved where I can with any other RAFBF charity work and volunteer with Team RAFBF Lossiemouth when I can.

1455869_10153203694054128_6273153155921151745_nI was successful in my application into the Great North Run 2015 in Newcastle which I am pretty excited about, it’s up there with the big running events on TV, so I am  really glad to get a place and of course doing it for a great cause in the RAF Benevolent Fund. All these events seem so far away at the minute but will creep up really fast.  I am hoping to add more and love the challenge, but don’t want to take on more than I can handle. At the minute I’m 100% focused on the Inverness ½ marathon in March , and want to get a time close to or better than the 1hr 44mins  I achieved in the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow in October, but with the cold weather it may be tricky. With that in mind it’s all about getting the miles under my belt just now, blowing off the cobwebs and working off the extra mince pies from Christmas. I even treated myself to a new pair of bright running shoes to feel part of the distance runner’s club. Hardest part of training at the minute seems to be getting the running gear on, with the 10646946_10153218249459128_4304828631513361773_nsnow and wind, training has been tough but I have my youth football team from Elgin City FC spurring me on! I have been taking them for a few laps of Cooper Park in Elgin, when our normal training pitch is snow covered, so they get a fitness session and I get pushed hard by these super fit youngsters.

Here’s a full list of what David is putting himself through in the coming year:

8th March – Inverness ½ marathon

6th-7th June – Night Rider London

28th-29th August – Ride the North challenge

13th September – Great North Run

We think David deserves all the support he can get, so if you agree with us, please pop over to his Just Giving page and make a donation to encourage in all his amazing efforts!

Well done David, we are right behind you – well ok, probably quite a bit behind you and puffing like mad, but we are there!

Finally, if you are interested in taking part in the Loch Ness Marathon in 2015 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, please email or visit the the RAFBF website for a full list of their event challenges this year.


Hello 2015!

Goodness me is it 2015 already! I can’t believe we are starting our third year of fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund. It’s amazing just how much time has flown, but then we have had so much fun with everything we have done and met some incredible people; it’s not surprising it flies by.

2014 was a year filled with incredible challenges by some of our supporters, including a climb up Ben Nevis, a four day River Spey Challenge and a 7 day motorbike challenge around the UK! How can anyone possibly top that in 2015?

IMG_20140626_122344 final tattoo

With all these amazing challenges and plenty of other events, we ended 2014 having raised just over £24,800 for the RAFBF, with £17,000 of that being raised in 2014. This is only the amount we have been involved in as a team, and doesn’t include all the other fabulous fundraising that happened at RAF Lossiemouth, including personal and group challenges as well as station fundraising.

It’s not long before we will be able to say we have reached £25,000 – what a fantastic total to have raised!

So with the last of the decorations being tidied away, the turkey a distant memory and the odour of sprouts finally lifting, it’s on with 2015. We are already getting our Cadet ducks in a row for this year’s fundraising and aim to start with a coffee morning in March, before a busy April for RAF97, but more of that nearer the time.  We are also planning a summer challenge, will be supporting a team entering the Baxters River Ness 10k and hopefully some amazing marathon runners! If you would like to take part, please do get in touch!


some of the 10k runners


10k Team


5k Team





jon_nixon_contentWe will also be supporting Wing Commander Jon Nixon, OC XV(R) Sqn as he trains for and completes his first marathon in London this year.  The squadron will also be taking on a year of fundraising events for the RAF Benevolent Fund as part of their 100th anniversary celebrations.  15_Squadron_RAFYou can read more about their planned adventures on their website.  We would like to wish Jon and his whole squadron the very best of luck and send a huge thank you for their amazing support!

Life in the Royal Air Force is ever evolving and because of that we had to say goodbye to several committee members, including Hannah Saunders, Bobby Keeling, Kerry Morris and Zee Fletcher due to changes in locations.  We also said cheerio to Debbie Tulip and Ally Carle, who needed to free up some personal time.   However, all is not lost and the committee continues to evolve and grow and currently stands at:

Karen Cox, Pauline Evans, Craig Chrossan, Mark Ratcliffe, Dave Thorne, Louis Devenny, Mel Waters, Charlotte Robinson, Jordan Ray, Stuart Smylie and Stew Macintyre.

MoneyclipcompTo start the year off with a bit of fun, we are running a competition over on our Facebook page  where you can win a beautifully hand-crafted money clip from our local friends Harrison & Bond .

Simply like and share the photo and answer a simple question to be in with a chance!

So that’s a quick update to say hello for 2015 and we will be back shortly with more news! Thank you for taking the time to read our blog!


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RAF Way Round: Andy Reed – “The Well-Seasoned Biker”

On the 1st September, four personnel from RAF Lossiemouth will begin their epic, 3,000 mile journey around 39 MOD bases across the UK, finishing just seven days later at the Highland Military Tattoo. They hope to raise £10,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity. If you would like to join them on their adventure around the UK, please visit their Facebook Events page.

Andy Reed was introduced to the team by FS Mark Ratcliffe and was soon appreciated for his wealth of biking knowledge.  Here Andy tells us a bit more about himself and the challenge.

2014-08-25 17.01.09My name is Andy Reed and I am a fitter for Turner Estate Solutions at RAF Lossiemouth.  I was in the RAF for 27 1/2 years as a General Technician Workshop and left as a Chief Tech just over two years ago.

I have been biking for longer than I care to remember (34 years in October). Had a great time riding bikes in the RAF, started scrambling then changed to short-circuit track racing and finished up as a trials rider. It was often andyremarked that I must have been sponsored by Ginsters,  not that I can work out why.  I still ride every day and can’t imagine a day with out a motorbike and will only give up when I can’t pick them up anymore.

I am doing the challenge to raise money for what I consider to be a very worthwhile cause and to put something back into a Service that has given me so much over the years and continues to do so.

2014-06-01 11.40.09I am most looking forward to seeing the MGR at Lossiemouth on the morning we finish, and there is no downside to being on the road on a motorbike for a whole week with 3 great guys for company  (not forgetting the back up crew)

To join the ride or follow the RAF Way Round story, follow them on Facebook or Twitter
To donate, please visit their Just Giving Page

Our amazing sponsors

Our amazing sponsors

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RAF Way Round: Cpl Dave Thorne – “The Cool Red Biker”

On the 1st September, four personnel from RAF Lossiemouth will begin their epic, 3,000 mile journey around 39 MOD bases across the UK, finishing just seven days later at the Highland Military Tattoo. They hope to raise £10,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity. If you would like to join them on their adventure around the UK, please visit their Facebook Events page.

Cpl Dave Thorne was the third member of the team to join up after meeting SAC Jack Yardley at a local motorcycle club.  Dave is also a member of the  Team RAFBF Lossiemouth Committee.

2014-08-25 17.05.16My name is Cpl David Thorne and I have been serving as an Airframe Technician (mechanical) in the RAF for almost 17 years.

I’ve been motorbiking since 2008 when I took my intensive course with Fast Trak in Elgin. I actually failed my first test due to a safety error, but had a perfect ride. I flew through my second test. I bought my first bike, a Fazer 600s2 before I even passed but had to wait until I passed to collect it from Ecosse in Aberdeen and my first ride was the travel back to Lossiemouth. Four years of commuting later, and after paying off my finance, I traded the Fazer for my absolutely mint red 2002 VFR 800 vtec. The two furthest journeys I have ridden so far is Elgin to Oban and back and Elgin to Auchtermuchty and back.

I am doing the RAF Way Round as both a personal challenge to complete the distance and as a way of giving something back to the 2014-08-25 17.14.52RAF Benevolent Fund whom I believe to be the most worthwhile armed forces charity. Who knows, we may all need them someday and I would like to feel that I gave before I got!!

I am most looking forward to visiting the 39 Mod bases as I hadn’t even heard of some of them! I am also looking forward to meeting old and new friends along the way, especially catching up with The Grumpy Biker and Simon who we hosted at Lossiemouth earlier this year.

RAFWayRound SAC Jack Yardley, Sgt David ThorneThe thing I am most not looking forward to is trying staying focused and alert on day 7,  when after 6 days of continuous riding,  we have to slog our way along the motorway from Woodvale to Fort George at Ardersier for the Highland Military Tattoo. All that straight road will be mind (and bum) numbing!! Give me corners any day ….  oh and just to add, I bought a Red VFR as, the ASDA test proved, everyone loves a red bike!

To join the ride or follow the RAF Way Round story, follow them on Facebook or Twitter
To donate, please visit their Just Giving Page

Our amazing sponsors

Our amazing sponsors

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RAF Way Round: FS Mark Ratcliffe – “The Well-Polished Biker”

On the 1st September, four personnel from RAF Lossiemouth will begin their epic, 3,000 mile journey around 39 MOD bases across the UK, finishing just seven days later at the Highland Military Tattoo. They hope to raise £10,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity. If you would like to join them on their adventure around the UK, please visit their Facebook Events page.

FS Mark Ratcliffe was the first to sign up for the challenge after SAC Jack Yardley chatted to him about the idea back in 2012 and is also a member of the Team RAFBF Lossiemouth Committee.  Here, Mark tell us a bit more about himself and why he is taking part.

RAF WR-3963I am FS Mark Ratcliffe, Libra and a Survival Equipment Fitter in the Royal Air Force, which I joined in September 1983.

I started Biking in 2003 and my first bike was  Honda VFR750FN (in red). I swapped this for a 2001 Yamaha R6 ( in red), kept it for 4 years. When I was in Germany, I  purchased my current bike. I now ride a sleek, black Yamaha R1. 2014-08-25 17.11.17

I have undertaken some form of charity event almost every year since 1998, when an old boss (who was struggling to get support for a children in need event) said ” life is like a bucket of water, and if everyone takes a cup of water out, and no one puts any back, the bucket will soon be empty”.

Why the RAF Benevolent Fund? Well after 32 years Service, it’s time I paid something back into the RAF Bucket.

10401939_10152483291647969_2284715107111887960_nI am looking forward to the Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George, what a way to end an epic trip.

The worst that can happen is us running out of deep heat, Diclofenic and Man-Up pills.

To join the ride or follow the RAF Way Round story, follow them on Facebook or Twitter

To donate, please visit their Just Giving Page

Our amazing sponsors

Our amazing sponsors

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RAF Way Round: SAC Jack Yardley – “The Idea Man”

On the 1st September, four personnel from RAF Lossiemouth will begin their epic, 3,000 mile journey around 39 MOD bases across the UK, finishing just seven days later at the Highland Military Tattoo. They hope to raise £10,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity. If you would like to join them on their adventure around the UK, please visit their Facebook Events page.

SAC Jack Yardley was the man behind the idea and in his blog he tells us more about himself and why he wanted to do this challenge.

Hi I am SAC Jack Yardley, I joined the RAF 5 years ago and am a Survival Equipment Fitter at RAF Lossiemouth.

2014-08-25 17.04.28My dad used to be a dispatch rider from the early 80’s until the late 90’s. He was always mad about bikes and was keen to pass his enthusiasm on to myself and my brother. After having to sell on the motocross he’d bought us when I was about 7, I  didn’t get back into bikes until a lot later. I first did my CBT on a freezing cold day in January 2012, and bought my first bike from our sponsor (Pulse Adrenaline 125 supermoto) brand new, off the shop floor, in March later that year, only to crash it three days later. After an expensive repair bill and many miles later I was totally hooked on bikes and decided to do my full license. After 4 attempts (yep, 4!) O managed to pass my test on the 28th of December 2012. Since then I have had a Mk1 Suzuki Bandit 600 (regrettably swapped for a tatty GSXR) a 98 Suzuki GSXR 600 SRAD ( sold when I discovered the sump plug had been araldited in!) and I now own a 99 Suzuki SV650.

SAC Jack Yardley

SAC Jack Yardley

People ask why I came up with this challenge.  It’s something totally different to what you see done by lots of other fundraisers. You always see lots of people doing 10k runs, marathons etc. but this is something wholly different.

Most people aren’t really aware of what the RAFBF actually does and where they can help, they just see it as another deduction from their payslip and I’ll admit I was one of those when we initially came up with this challenge.  By taking on this adventure, we are hoping to let more people know about the RAFBF and the great work they do.

2014-06-13 19.36.03What am I looking forward to the most? Riding my bike every day for 7 days solid and getting to meet up with some old mates at other camps that I  haven’t seen since leaving training, not to mention getting to go to places I’d never see in my trade.

Looking forward to the least? The long, boring motorway mile run we have to do on the last day to get us back to Fort George.

To join the ride or follow the RAF Way Round story, follow them on Facebook or Twitter
To donate, please visit their Just Giving Page

Our amazing sponsors

Our amazing sponsors

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RAF Way Round: The Dawning of a New Challenge

On the 1st September, four personnel from RAF Lossiemouth will begin their epic, 3,000 mile journey around 39 MOD bases across the UK, finishing just seven days later at the Highland Military Tattoo. They hope to raise £10,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.


The RAF Way Round Logo, created by The Grumpy Biker

SAC Jack Yardley tells us how he came up with the idea and how it then grew legs and rode!

The idea came about not long after I did my CBT (compulsory basic training)  when myself and Ratty (FS Mark Ratcliffe) were in the pub for someone’s leaving do. We got chatting about bikes etc, and I mentioned how ace it would be if we could manage to visit every MoD establishment in the UK by bike for charity.

After discovering that to complete that challenge would take weeks upon weeks, Ratty suggested visiting all the RAF stations and other camps with a significant RAF presence. I asked him that once I had passed my full bike test would he be interested in doing it with me and he agreed, however it fell to the wayside when my wife announced she was pregnant.

After passing my test, and just before a deployment to OP Herrick with 617 Sqn, I asked Ratty if he was still game for it and was he happy for me to start organising stuff in preparation, once  I had returned to the UK (I should add that he is my boss after all!) This is where I came up with the name for our run. ‘THE RAF WAY ROUND’, a shameless rip off of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman’s documentary ‘The Long way Round’

Once the go ahead was given and initial contact was made with the RAF Benevolent Fund, we started looking for other volunteers who would  like to do the run with us. Unfortunately everyone O asked couldn’t follow it through due to other commitments.

So three months, and $600 later from tailoring hats in the desert, I set about fully putting the wheels in motion. I  asked Ratty if he was still game (although he admitted that he though I’d never see it through) and Dave Thorne, who I had met through  a local motorcycling club, came on board not long after I came back from Afghanistan in February this year.

After speaking with Karen from Team RAFBF Lossiemouth about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to be noticed, we set to work on the planning stages of our trip. Routes were planned, potential sponsors contacted and social media pages created. From then on we soon found ourselves swamped with correspondence and interest from other companies. It was at this time Ratty had introduced Andy Reed to us, who had expressed an interest in joining us. As one of the most experienced motorcyclist I know, and a road knowledge almost akin to an A to Z book, it would’ve been stupid not to have him on board!

With the team complete, tonnes and tonnes of emails and phone calls made to book accommodation, liaising with other stations who were willing to help us out, approaching sponsors, keeping our media pages up to date to increase our profile and the all-important local fundraising with the bikes, we were now almost ready to set off.

We started this project over six months ago thinking that would be more than adequate time to plan and prepare. And although we are in the final week until our departure it still seems there are a mountain of things to finalise.

All in all we certainly hope that the time and effort spent on making this trip a success will allow us to hit that £10,000 that we have been pushing hard for.

RAFWayRound SAC Jack Yardley, Cpl David Thorne

Jack and Dave’s first photo call

To join the ride or follow the RAF Way Round story, follow them on Facebook or Twitter

To donate, please visit their Just Giving Page

RWR Sponsors

The various RAF Way Round sponsors