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Remembering our RAF veterans

This Remembrance Sunday we will remember all those we have lost in war but we will also remember those who have passed away this year.

In 2018 we have said goodbye to several Second World War veterans, a sad reminder that 'The Few' are becoming fewer.

RAF veterans

This year we have mourned Battle of Britain ace Wing Commander Tom Neil, 97; Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum, 96, also a Battle of Britain pilot; Battle of Britain ground crew Sgt Stan Hartill, 97; and most recently 101-year-old Mary Ellis, one of the last surviving female pilots from the war, who flew more than 1,000 aircraft serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary.

As well as their brave, selfless service to their country these veterans shared a deep humility, an unwillingness to be publicly honoured, insisting they were only "doing their duty". This humility defines a generation of men and women who served during the Second World War and those who undertook National Service, determined to struggle on in silence, without troubling anyone for help.

These losses are a stark reminder that this truly inspiring generation is not getting any younger. Research carried out by the RAF Benevolent Fund into the needs of the RAF Family, tells us that almost three quarters of the current RAF veteran community is now 65 or over. In response the RAF Benevolent Fund has made it its mission to ensure no RAF veteran faces adversity alone, and where we find adversity we shall stand side by side with the RAF Family, in their hour of need.

"But there are people more deserving than me" is something I hear too often and my response is simple – perhaps there are people in more need but that does not mean that veterans' challenges are not important. The RAF Benevolent Fund is here for the entire RAF Family, whatever you did when serving. We treat everyone as an individual, there are no categories of need and we want to ensure that all members of the RAF Family get the right support when they need it.

Whether that's making sure you are in the right nursing home for you and your family, or topping up your weekly income to enable you to live independently or getting you the equipment you need to stay at home or indeed get out and about and meet friends.

Quite simply, if you served your country in service with the RAF, in whatever capacity, the RAF Benevolent Fund is here to serve you, in certain hope that you may enjoy your twilight years in comfort, in dignity and never in isolation. We are very proud of what you have done for our country, do not let your own pride stop you from asking us for help. This is simply us paying you back for a little of what you have done for us.

By Air Vice-Marshal David Murray, Chief Executive of the RAF Benevolent Fund

See the various ways you can remember the service and sacrifice of our late RAF veterans.

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