Thank you for another incredible year!
Published: 22 Dec 2016
A Christmas Message from Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, Chairman of the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT)
Christmas is a time when we tend to reflect on the year just passed and 2016 has certainly been a wonderful 12 months for us all at the Trust to review. We have had a hugely successful year providing support to many projects benefitting serving RAF personnel and young people throughout the UK and overseas. Having recently visited the operational detachments and the permanent bases in Cyprus, I have experienced first-hand the difference the Trust's work can make.
During my visit, I met with many excellent and highly motivated individuals who have been supported by the RAFCT. It was clear from the enthusiastic feedback I received, that we have helped make a big difference, funding things such as Wi-Fi, leisure facilities, bicycles and part-funding a minibus, which has improved the quality of life considerably for deployed and permanent personnel.
On the outbound flight, I also had the privilege of meeting SAC Aaron Garcha who was returning to Akrotiri after completing his Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) at RAF Brize Norton through the Trust-sponsored Junior Rank Pilot Scholarship Scheme (JRPSS). The scheme has benefitted so many young people this year and we are now starting to see their efforts rewarded in gaining formal flying qualifications.
Among the many highlights during the past year were celebrations marking the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Organisation. This culminated in two high profile events supported by the Trust. In July, the Air Cadets staged a splendid march-past at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), with the then Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, and Commandant of the Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, taking the salute.
The following month, the Air Cadet celebrations moved to the RAF College at Cranwell where, thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Trust, the cadets staged an impressive parade and marching bands demonstration, followed by a spectacular anniversary concert, Music on the Orange, and ending in a firework display, all of which delighted the large crowd that attended.
During the past 12 months, Trustees have handed out more than £700,000 in grants to support a wide range of fantastic initiatives and launch several new scholarships and awards, designed to develop the skills and airmindedness of young people. It is thanks largely to the success of our commercial company, RAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, and the tremendous support from our army of volunteers, that the Trust continues to be able to Promote, Support and Encourage so effectively each year.
Last summer's remarkable RIAT and the excellent - and recently concluded - RAF in Concert tour, combined with Enterprises' other successful activities, have ensured that Trustees can look towards to another great year of giving in 2017, confident in the knowledge that we will continue to have such a significant and positive impact upon the well-being of serving personnel and the development of young people - the future of the RAF.
This month sees Amanda Butcher retire as Trust Director after just over two years. She has worked energetically to project the RAFCT into new areas, resulting in a broader range of applications, and has played a key role in developing and delivering the strategic aims of Trust. The Trustees are so grateful for the work Amanda has done.
Amanda will be handing over to Group Captain Justine Morton who has recently retired from the RAF. We are delighted to be gaining the benefit of Justine's recent experience and look forward to her contributing to the growth of the Trust as we enter an exciting period for the charity. We also welcome a new Trustee, Katie Wigston, to the RAFCT Board of Trustees, taking the seat vacated by Air Vice-Marshal The Honourable David Murray. David has moved to be Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund and we thank him for all his advice and guidance over the last three years.
The New Year will see the debut of our new endeavour, the Scampton Air Show, as well as us salute the 75th Anniversary of the RAF Regiment, and 70th Anniversary of the USAF at RIAT 2017. Planning is also underway for the RAF's Centenary in 2018.
Finally, on behalf of my board of Trustees I would like to thank you all for your support during the past year and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Sir Kevin Leeson
Pictured: RAFCT Chairman welcomes new Trustee Katie Wigston, while seeing some of the 903 EAW bicycles in use - one of the Trust's projects from 2016.