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Taking on the London Marathon in honour of the fallen

For Squadron Leader Craig Hodgskinson, working with the RAF's wounded, injured and sick has inspired him to take part in this year's London Marathon.

Craig was posted to the Personnel Recovery Unit at RAF High Wycombe in 2009, working as the OC for three years.

Craig trains for the London Marathon

He says: "I joined the RAF in 1995 and working at the personnel recovery unit is unlike any other role I’ve had. It really is life altering and gives you a whole new perspective on life.

"I've sat at the bedside of personnel who are terminally ill and living out their final days surrounded by their loved ones, and it really hits home.

"Seeing how the RAF Benevolent Fund supports these people and their families in their time of need is incredible. It’s such an important organisation and one very close to my heart."

Now Craig wants to do his bit for the RAF's leading welfare charity that supports the RAF family including the families and dependents of those who are no longer with us by taking part in the London Marathon.

Craig says: "In my military career I have had many roles both in the UK and overseas and have sadly seen friends deploy on operations and not return. The ones that do make it home are often bearing life-changing injuries. A constant reminder of what they have endured. I’ve seen first hand the wide range of support the RAF Benevolent Fund can offer, and so I know that each pound I raise will go towards a very worthwhile cause."

Craig, 43, is now Officer Commanding of Base Support Squadron at RAF Henlow.

Craig explains: "Thankfully very few of the cases I deal with at Henlow are as serious or complex as those I have dealt with in the past but I know that I only need to pick up the phone and refer them to the RAF Benevolent Fund and they will be there to assist."

The RAF Benevolent Fund provides financial, practical and emotional support to serving and former members of the RAF, as well as their partners and dependants. They help members of the RAF family with everything from disability, injury, financial hardship and youth support.

On 23 April, Craig will be taking on the 26.2 mile run through the capital in honour of his RAF friends and colleagues.

Craig continued: "I've had the privilege of working closely with some of the RAF's most seriously injured personnel, people like Duncan Slater who has gone on to achieve great things following a life-changing injury.

"But I have to admit, on the day of the marathon I’ll be thinking of those who are sadly no longer with us and of course their families."

In July 2009 whilst serving in Afghanistan in an area called Babaji, Duncan’s vehicle was hit by an IED. The only unbroken part of his body was his right arm. Duncan spent five months in hospital, four months of which he had to lie flat to avoid paralysis. He eventually needed both legs amputated in order to be able to walk pain-free.

After receiving the devastating blow from doctors that he will more than likely be confined to a wheelchair, Duncan was determined that he would walk his daughter to school again. Since then he has gone on to achieve great things including becoming the first double leg amputee to complete the Marathon Des Sables, described as the toughest race on Earth.

The Fund were able to support Duncan and his family by building an extension which now houses a specially adapted bathroom which he can easily use.

Louise Gibson, Head of Fundraising at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "Without the generous support of people like Craig we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do, helping people like Duncan. Having taken part in the marathon myself I know how much training and hard work goes into it. I'd like to wish Craig the best of luck and thank him for supporting the RAF Benevolent Fund."

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