Thursday, 23 September 2010

Heartfelt Thanks for RAF personnel: past and present

Flight Lieutenant Marc Heal
Photography by Adrian Brooks
The RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, presented a vast collection of messages of thanks to service personnel, past and present, on Sunday 19th September to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The ‘Heartfelt Thanks’ campaign gives people the opportunity to express their gratitude to the RAF for its defence of the country in the summer of 1940, and to recognise the ongoing commitment of current RAF serving personnel.

Messages from members of the public have been collected at RAF Benevolent Fund events throughout the summer, as well as online. Celebrities including Stephen Fry, Sir David Jason, Dawn French, Dan Snow, Joanna Lumley and Sophie Dahl have also contributed messages to express their appreciation.
Battle of Britain Wing Commander Bob Foster
Wing Commander Bob Foster, 90, who flew 50-60 sorties in the Battle and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his bravery, says he’s very touched by the public’s support:

"I'm overwhelmed by how many people have taken the time to write messages as part of the RAF Benevolent Fund's Heartfelt Thanks campaign. It's a real sign of appreciation to the whole of the RAF, not just to those of us who fought in the Battle of Britain, but to all the men and women who have served since and are currently serving. I have read some incredibly moving tributes - one card was signed by a little boy of just five - and I can tell you that it's very humbling to see such a display of gratitude on the 70th anniversary of the Battle."

Flight Lieutenant Marc Heal, 30, is a Chinook helicopter pilot based at RAF Odiham who received the DFC for service in Afghanistan. He explains what it means to be thanked:

“Those of us serving in the RAF know that people are grateful for the work that we do, but to see it written in their own words is incredibly moving. It’s a small thing to say ‘thank you’ but it means a great deal and I think people’s words of support will be a great inspiration for anyone who’s ever served, from the oldest veteran to the youngest cadet.”

To take part in the ‘Heartfelt Thanks’ campaign, leave a message of thanks online.

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