Major Kate Philp, a former Royal Artillery officer is the first British female soldier in recent operations to lose a limb in combat. Kate lost her left leg below the knee in 2008 when the Warrior that she was commanding in Afghanistan ran over a 50kg Taliban bomb.
In December 2013, she joined the Walking With The Wounded team to take on the South Pole Allied Challenge. Three teams of wounded service personnel raced 335km on skis. On Friday 13th December, along with HRH Prince Harry, Kate and the teams arrived at the South Pole; a monumental day for all involved.
Kate has been an Ambassador for our Charity since 2010. She states that 'I see The Soldiers' Charity as a hugely important organisation, which embodies that longevity of care for our soldiers and their families...'
Kate continued serving in the Army until August 2015. She has now started her own leadership consultancy, which offers training, coaching and speaking services to organisations and individuals in both the public and private sector.
Greta was just 19 years old, when she was called up to serve her country in 1943 and sent from her home in Yorkshire to work at Bletchley Park. She knew she was playing her part in the war effort, but the full impact of her work was kept top secret. It wasn’t until decades later that Greta understood the role she had played in helping to plan the D-Day landings, in shaping history. She recalls: ‘I felt shocked, really shocked. I had no idea whatsoever that it was so significant. After the war I’d come home, got married and I never gave it a thought. For 30 years there was nothing said about Bletchley Park until the first book came out which my husband bought for me. I was really amazed when I realized the importance of what I had been doing all those years ago’.
Now in her early 90s and living alone after the death of her husband, Denis, who had served in the Airborne Forces during World War II, she was facing winter in a freezing house with a broken boiler. Buying a replacement boiler would have cost Greta almost all her life savings which she relies upon for transport and mobility. Funding from The Soldiers’ Charity helped to pay for a new boiler.
As the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, supporting the RAF family is at the heart and soul of what we do. Airplay was set up as the result of the RAF's request for assistance to help keep young people and children safely occupied on stations.
Children and young people from RAF families often find themselves facing their own unique challenges - living on remote and isolated RAF stations with little to keep them occupied or moving from one RAF station to another means they are constantly having to make friends and settle into new schools.
And it doesn't help when their Dad or Mum is deployed for long periods at a time. Airplay was created in response to this, delivering fun, challenging and structured programmes and activities, both during term time and throughout the school holidays.
Airplay Parks provide state-of-the art multi-use games areas and recreational facilities for children and young people.
- The RAF Benevolent Fund has either built or refurbished 73 Airplay Parks to date on or near RAF stations
- Twenty-five Airplay Childcare Centres have either been built or refurbished, providing much-needed and affordable childcare for RAF parents.
The RAF Benevolent Fund has also commissioned national charity 4Children to deliver a network of over 80 trained station youth workers on stations to provide a programme of safe and stimulating activities for young people.
Airplay is making a real difference to RAF children and their parents, as many of the children who have used the programme will testify:
"I moved to RAF Benson not too long ago, and found it hard to start again. I met some really nice guys that go to my school, and they invited me to the youth club so I went one Monday. I really enjoyed it there, the youth worker greeted me, and told me what there was to do, and my new friends helped me settle in. Now, I go every Monday and have met some more friends, and I have a laugh there. The youth workers are friendly and we can go to them if we have problems, it's a good start to the week."
Male aged 15 from RAF Benson
Working with RAF Community Support and 4Children, the RAF Benevolent Fund is extremely proud that Airplay has achieved such success on the ground and that the charity continues to be at the forefront of provision across the spectrum of support for all members of the RAF family – from the youngest child to the oldest veteran.
Gary (31) and his wife Dawn are parents to Luke and 11 year-old Jamie who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare muscle wasting disease, which affects boys and will limit his life expectancy to around 25 years.
Jamie was diagnosed when he was three years old and has needed more and more support as the disease has progressed.
After 18 years serving in the RAF, Gary was forced to give up his career to become Jamie’s full time carer. When things got tight and the family could not afford to make the adaptations Jamie’s disease demanded, the RAF Benevolent Fund helped the family buy a bungalow for the family to live in and, this year, updated the garden to make it more accessible for Jamie’s wheelchair.
Jamie attends mainstream school and in September moved up to secondary school. The Fund has given him a £15,000 grant towards the cost of a new electric wheelchair that will make his life much easier. Jamie loves to play sports and signed for Norwich City FC recently to play power chair football.
Nursery-age children of Royal Navy families at HMS Collingwood celebrated the launch of a £1million refurbishment project in summer 2016 thanks to charitable funding from series of local and national organisations.
The ambitious programme of redevelopment works, which include an outdoor play area and garden, started in autumn and will be completed mid-2017 (subject to final funding).
The transformation of the well-loved, but tired, outdoor space has only been made possible thanks a grant of £50,000 from the principal charity of the Royal Navy, The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC), and £23,000 from the Annington Trust.
Improvements to the garden, which is the first area (anticipated to be open in spring 2017) include all-new paving, artificial lawns, climbing frames, benches, landscaping, a play bark area, large sand pit, water play area and a play house.
The groundworks will begin following the construction of an all-new play building, which represents the project’s greatest expenditure.
Lieutenant Commander Caroline Thomas-Hoefsmit, Royal Netherlands Navy and WPSA Chairman said: “As a nursery community, and as parents who serve in – or work alongside – the Royal Navy, we see first-hand the importance of looking after our own.
“What makes Woodentots unique is the innate understanding of the particular needs of military personnel, particularly during deployments, which provides a huge boost to the ability to cope with the demands of being away from home safe in the knowledge that your child is receiving the best possible attention; this is the essence of Woodentots Nursery.”
At a Woodentots ‘graduation’ ceremony in 2016, 11 children expressed their gratitude to supporting charities by singing songs and presenting gifts to special guests, which included the Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock OBE and his wife Joanna, who was presented with flowers.