RAF relay team faces tough challenges en route to Rustington

RAF Triathlon team members with the RAF100 Baton and RAF Benevolent Fund Ambassador Mike Goody. Photo: RAF Benevolent Fund VbRW0KfDg2bDDsVt-F68
RAF Triathlon team members with the RAF100 Baton and RAF Benevolent Fund Ambassador Mike Goody. Photo: RAF Benevolent Fund VbRW0KfDg2bDDsVt-F68

Relay team members have spoken of the challenges they faced carrying the RAF100 Baton to Rustington.

Tide, hills and 106 miles were overcome by the six RAF triathletes to deliver the baton to the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Princess Marina House on Sunday.

The stop was part of the 100-day relay which sees the commemorative baton travel around the country, visiting RAF stations and memorials, on a mission to celebrate, commemorate and inspire the next generation.

The journey to Rustington was one of the longest stages of the relay, with travel by foot, pedal and braving 8C waters in the North Sea.

Wing Commander Debs Pratley, officer commanding for RAF Triathlon, said: “The hardest part mentally was the swim. Physically we didn’t swim a great distance but in those temperatures it was tough.

“It’s quite fitting that the RAF Triathlon team brought the baton here to Princess Marina House because the team has the whole force represented, regulars, reservists and civil servants – the whole RAF family which the RAF Benevolent Fund supports.

“RAF100 is all about celebrating, commemorating and inspiring and hopefully by taking on a challenge of travelling over 100 miles in a day we have done that.

“For me personally it is a proud moment. I am from a long history of family who have served in the military and I am the third generation of my family who have been a wing commander.

“To have the opportunity to reflect on those 100 years and look ahead to the future has been really special. I genuinely think the RAF, the community it forms and the family it forms is one of the best things. It is one of the most inspirational jobs.”

Also on the team was Squadron Leader Paul Knowler, community development officer Louise Short, Flying Officer Hannah Dodwell, Sgt Paul Bucknall and SAC Kon-ick McFarlane-Hunt.

At Princess Marina House, they were welcomed by RAF Benevolent Fund ambassador Mike Goody.

Mike, an Invictus Games gold medallist who used to live in Littlehampton, said sport played a huge part in his rehabilitation after he lost a leg while serving with the RAF in Afghanistan.

He said: “To be part of the celebrations of 100 years of the RAF is fantastic and it’s a great opportunity to highlight all the great work the RAF Benevolent Fund has done to support the RAF family in those years.

“It is quite a momentous occasion, not only for the RAF but also for the RAF Benevolent Fund.”

The baton travelled 106 miles along the coast from The Memorial to the Few at Folkestone, where it had been delivered on Saturday by Red10, the special edition Aston Martin Vanquish S Red Arrows car, and its owner Humphrey Bradley.

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The relay team at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum