There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year for us all, with the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions changing the very way of life that we are all accustomed to.
For the RAF Association, 2020 was an incredibly difficult year too. However, I am very proud that our research – the first into the impact of the virus on the RAF community – found that those surveyed are more concerned for the
physical and mental wellbeing of others than for themselves, despite significant pressures in their own lives.
Looking back, perhaps the greatest achievement of 2020 was the Association’s incredible response to the pandemic, Operation CONNECT. The Association acted immediately, launching: a telephone outreach service and friendship helpline, arranging bag drops of vital provisions to the most vulnerable, and keeping us all in good spirits with an RAF-themed online entertainment programme. These services had a remarkable impact on the lives of thousands of people in some of their darkest days.
This work couldn’t have been possible without funding. If you donated to an appeal, or took part in fundraising on our behalf in 2020 – thank you so much.
There were moments of celebration in 2020 too. We commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE Day with a special programme of entertainment and a poem featuring some very special guests. You can revisit the poem here. Our Greatest Salute campaign marked the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, with over 6,000 of you sending in your tributes to ‘the many’ to be buried in our time capsule at the National Memorial Arboretum. If you missed our video of the burial, you can watch it here.
Looking forward, we see no reduction in the challenges ahead. It will take the ongoing efforts of thousands of our members, branches, supporters and volunteers to face them. We are as committed as ever to reducing isolation and loneliness, relieving key elements of everyday life which can cause pressure, and empowering all members of our RAF community to proudly keep their freedom, dignity and independence.
Although we still face restrictions as we move into 2021, we do so knowing that, by working together with kindness, we will continue to help all those in need of our support. By joining together we will resolutely face the challenges of this New Year.
With my sincerest wishes of good luck and good health for the year ahead.
Air Marshal Sir Baz North KCB OBE MA FRAeS
President of the RAF Association