WITH February 2022 marking 80 years since the formation of the RAF Regiment, the ground fighting force of the RAF, I wanted to share my family’s story to highlight the sacrifice the brave individuals of the Regiment have made over the past eight decades.

Fourteen years ago, I lost the most amazing person I had ever met, my husband and best friend Gary Thompson.

Gary was a reservist with the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2008. He was a proud RAF Regiment gunner, and very proud to serve his country.

My life and the lives of our five daughters changed forever when I heard the heartbreaking news that Gary had been killed.

His vehicle had hit a landmine killing Gary and his friend, Livi.

The driver and commander survived but they were severely injured. Gary was 51.

In the wake of this devastating loss, the RAF Benevolent Fund came to our assistance and helped my daughters financially through university.

That prompt and unconditional support was the foundation upon which we could begin to rebuild our lives.

Knowing that the Fund was there for us gave me such a sense of assurance for our future.

In honour the RAF Regiment’s 80th anniversary, the RAF Benevolent Fund has launched a dedication page where members of the public can thank, commemorate and celebrate all those who served and are serving in the RAF Regiment.

Visit rafbf.org/regimentdedication to share stories and memories of your loved ones.

Jacqui Thompson, RAF Benevolent Fund Ambassador