The RAF Association’s Carrickfergus branch, which covers Whitehead through Carrickfergus, Ballyclare, and Greenisland to Newtownabbey and Glengormley, has this year raised over £35,000 for the Wings Appeal.
Organisers have praised the generosity of those who supported the annual collection.
Branch Chairman, Colin Murphy, said: “I find it absolutely remarkable that the generosity of people seems to know no bounds. If it was not for that we simply could not look after our veterans as we need to. So, from North Belfast right through to East Antrim, we want you to know just how much we appreciate your benevolence.”
The public are very mindful of the commitment of younger veterans as well as those who served in the Second World War, said Branch Welfare Officer, Kevin McRandle MBE.
“We have both young and older members in the Branch, including a 93-year-old former Lancaster Rear Gunner, Warrant Officer David Moffatt, who flew 35 missions over Germany and lived (he says very luckily) to tell the tale,” he added.
“Our oldest WWII veteran is Billy Boyce, at 97, who was a technician but was selected for aircrew duty just as the war ended. He says he was lucky as well, in that he didn’t have to take to the air in earnest.
“Another RAFA nonagenarian, Davy Gray, was an aircraft instrument technician during WWII. People like this who stepped up to the plate when the country was in its most perilous but nonetheless, ‘Finest Hour’, deserve our appreciation and practical assistance when they occasionally need it.
“To this end, the RAF Association continues to play a vital role in providing welfare support and relief for our veterans and their families. It would be remiss of me not to particularly thank the veterans, and many other helpers, who freely offered their time and assistance, often for long hours, to raise funds throughout the 2017 campaign.”
The fundraising success comes ahead of the RAF’s 100th birthday on April 1, 2018. “In its centenary year, we have laid the foundation to soar skywards with our 2018 Wings Appeal effort,” said Branch Wings Appeal Organiser, Wing Commander Noel Williams.
“It will of course depend entirely on the generosity of local businesses, churches, schools and residents, as to just how much we will raise to support those now struggling in their own ‘Hour of Need’.
“I must commend the businesses that supported us so wonderfully during the past 12 weeks of fund raising, together with the remarkable generosity of the residents, from Whitehead right through to Glengormley. These include: TESCO Carrickfergus, Northcott Shopping Centre in Glengormley, shops in Kings Crescent and Abbots
Cross Whiteabbey, TESCO in the Abbey Centre, Sainsbury’s Carrickfergus, the Milestone on Middle Road, Topaz Petrol Station in Greenisland, the DeCourcy Centre and Eurospar in Victoria, and of course the many other smaller shops, pubs, restaurants and clubs that support us throughout the year.
“Likewise, the schools and churches (including the Black Santa) who shared their facilities so selflessly to make all this possible. Without that support, we would never have reached the magnificent total of £35,010.34. For that I thank you on behalf of those who are unable to do so personally.”