Northamptonshire cyclist to complete 100-mile ride in memory of her Second World War veteran grandfather
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A woman from Northamptonshire is taking part in a 100-mile cycle challenge fundraiser later this year in memory of her grandfather.
Saffron Small will complete The Dambusters Ride, raising funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity, and paying tribute to all those who took part in the raid.
Saffron, a keen cyclist, will remember her grandfather Reginald Small who was a rear gunner with 101 Squadron and served with Bomber Command during the Second World War.
Saffron, 41, said: “It's a cause that's close to my heart. My grandfather was a huge supporter of the RAF Benevolent Fund, so my partner and I were looking for a challenge to complete together in his honour. The Dambusters Ride ticked all the boxes so I'm really looking forward to riding with my husband whilst raising money for a fantastic cause.”
The Dambusters Ride has been created by the RAF Benevolent Fund to celebrate the centenary of Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson DFM, the last surviving member of the Dambusters raid.
Johnny has given his support to the ride.
He said: “I am grateful to have never needed the support of the RAF Benevolent Fund but nonetheless I have always known they are there for those less fortunate than I. I was honoured to hear The Dambusters Ride would be launched on my birthday – what a birthday surprise.
“Not only will this event raise vital funds to support RAF personnel, past and present, it will also pay tribute to the brave men of Bomber Command who made the ultimate sacrifice on the Dambusters raid and throughout the Second World War.
"Their loss must never be forgotten and it is my hope through this event, a new generation will learn about the cost of the freedom they enjoy today.
“The RAF Benevolent Fund does incredible work supporting RAF veterans and serving personnel and I would like to thank anyone who signs up for this cycle ride.”
Fundraisers can take part in either a 100-mile or 56-mile bike ride starting and finishing at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, the home of 617 Squadron. Participants can also join the Dambusters Ride virtually by completing the 100-mile or 56-mile distance elsewhere on 15 and 16 May 2021.
In 2020, the RAF Benevolent Fund introduced a 24-hour emotional support helpline and created an online mental wellbeing zone, as well as offering Headspace memberships to partners of serving personnel.
The fund has also offered a grant of £2,500 to each RAF station to provide an activity and well-being pack for RAF children and launched Airplay Connect, an online version of its youth support service.
Lisa Hunt, regional fundraiser at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “This is a fantastic way for Saffron to pay tribute to Bomber Command veterans like her grandfather as well Johnny Johnson and the other members 617 Squadron.
"Her fundraising efforts will also allow us to continue supporting the whole of the RAF Family practically, emotionally and financially for years to come.”
To sponsor Saffron, visit her fundraising page.
For more information and to register for the event, visit rafbf.org/ride.