New Trust Director plans to spread the word
Published: 22 Feb 2017
Recently retired as a Group Captain in the RAF, Justine Morton has joined the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT) as Director with the aim of spreading the word about the many ways in which the youngest member of the Royal Air Force family of charities is supporting leadership and life skills development among Service personnel and young people. RAF News asked Justine what she hoped to bring to the role and about some of the exciting plans the Trust has in the pipeline.
What attracted you to the role of RAF Charitable Trust Director?
Having spent 25 years in the Royal Air Force serving in a variety of roles both in the UK abroad, it's great to be able to work for a charity that is directly benefitting service personnel and in such a positive way. What impressed me most about the Trust is its aim to establish a continuous thread that both supports and encourages individual growth and professional development.
Thanks to the Trust, many young people are being inspired to engage in important STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects through a wide variety of initiatives aimed at primary and secondary school children, Air Cadets, Guides and university students. Further encouragement is given, primarily through the Air Cadet Organisation, to expose youngsters to the magic of aviation by providing flying opportunities and pilot training. Should they go on to join the RAF, these opportunities continue through hugely popular initiatives such as the Junior Rank Pilot Scholarship Scheme, which is operated through the RAF Flying Clubs' Association and is going from strength to strength. We are able to achieve all this thanks largely to the annual donation we receive from the Trust's trading company 'Enterprises', which organises the world famous Royal International Air Tattoo. It is primarily through this event and the annual RAF In Concert tour that the Trust is able to deliver the 'Promote' element of its three core objects - Promote, Support, Encourage. There can be few better opportunities to Promote excellence within the Royal Air Force than at these two prestigious, high profile events.
What do you hope to bring to the role?
My time in the Royal Air Force has given me a good understanding of the Service and, perhaps more importantly, an awareness of some of the challenges facing our servicemen and women and their families. I am looking forward to using this experience not only to support the work of the Trustees but also to raise awareness at RAF stations in the UK and abroad of the many ways the Trust can help.
Where will the Trust's focus be in 2017?
Trustees will continue to support Service personnel by improving their well-being and quality of life, particularly those who are on detachment. From crew room improvements and families' day funding to equipment for clubs and training support, grants large and small are making a big difference to the lives of our Servicemen and women. Equally, the Trust is playing an important part in bringing STEM subjects to life in an entertaining and informative way. In fact, one of our Trustees has a specific remit to identify new and inspiring ways to get young people engaged in aviation-related education. It's so important for youngsters to recognise the practical side to the subject matter they are learning in the classroom and we do this through initiatives such as the Air Tattoo's acclaimed Techno Zone and by providing sponsorship for STEM events such as the one held at RAF Scampton last June.
It's also important that we continue to spread the word about the Trust so that as many people as possible are aware of what it does and how it could help them. The greater the awareness, the wider range of grant applications we can expect to receive.
The Trust recently approved a grant for RAF Odiham that took the total amount of money handed out by the charity since it was established in 2005 beyond the £4 million mark. This is a great achievement. What next?
I've joined the charity at a very exciting time and there is no limit to the ambitions of Trustees in furthering the aims of the charity.
Last year saw Enterprises gift a record amount of money to the Trust and it is likely that the healthy figure of £784,000 will be exceeded at the end of this financial year. As the Trust's income continues to grow, so do new and exciting opportunities to make a difference to people's lives.
Besides encouraging grant applications and inspiring young people to get involved in STEM, there is a new spotlight on the RAF Scampton Airshow in September; the Trust is committed to supporting a safe and entertaining event.
A lot of planning is also being done behind the scenes by the RAF and its charities as it gears up to mark its centenary in 2018. The Trust will have a very important role in marking this milestone and ensuring that next year's RAF 100 activities successfully Celebrate, Commemorate and Inspire.