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 100th Anniversary celebrations and we have been thrilled to be able to cheer them along at various events, including their 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.
Our 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.
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 used 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 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 lack of experience, our enthusiasm and thirst for learning enabled us 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 itself 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 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 fundraisers and to catch up with our local Cadet Squadrons who are always great supporters 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 Lossiemouth 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 merchandise 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 uncontainable 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 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 patch”, plus the weather always seems to be good! A strong offshore wind hampered our brave entrants, 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 Sunday 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 promote 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 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 Loch 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 always, 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!
When 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 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 fundraising 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 Charlotte 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 team! 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 our 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