The history of the charity
The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust (RAFCT) was founded in January 2005 following the reorganisation of the RAF Benevolent Fund Development Trust (RAFBFDT). The RAFCT retained the objectives of the RAFBFDT and widened its scope to include the RAF family of charities as potential beneficiaries.
The RAFBFDT was formed in July 1950. It was launched with a £30,000 grant from the Air Council with the express purpose of financing and assisting 'aerial pageants and displays' reminiscent of 1920s in order to promote the RAF.
The first Air Tattoo was held at North Weald Aerodrome and was organised by the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA). In 1975 - Air Marshal Sir Denis Crowley-Milling, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, became involved in order to re-establish military airshows as a way to raise money and awareness for the fund and to aid recruitment to the RAF.
As a result, the first International Air Tattoo was held at RAF Greenham Common in 1976, organised by the RAFBFDT.
The objectives of the Trust were widened in 1994 to include charitable purposes which were of benefit to past and present members of the RAF and in 1996 the Tattoo received Royal recognition.
The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust was established in 2004 to take over the running of the event and a Board of Trustees was established in 2005, chaired by Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight. HRH The Duke of Kent agreed to be Patron of the RAF Charitable Trust.
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire succeeded Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight in 2008 as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and in 2011 the Trustees agreed a new Mission Statement, aims and objectives and a new logo was adopted.
In 2013 Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson took over as Chairman and President from Air Chief Marshal Sir John Cheshire.
In December 2017 the Royal International Air Tattoo became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and in June 2020 Air Marshal Phillip Osborn took over as Chairman of the RAFCT.