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Fundraising Wing Commander from Grantham wins prestigious RAF charity award

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A wing commander who has raised funds for veterans and their families has been rewarded for his extraordinary work.

Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth, of Grantham, has won in the prestigious ‘Above and Beyond’ category of the RAF Benevolent Fund’s annual awards.

The award recognises those who have gone the extra mile to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund’s veterans and their families.

Mike Ainsworth receiving his award. Credit: Oliver Dixon (57283153)
Mike Ainsworth receiving his award. Credit: Oliver Dixon (57283153)

Mike Ainsworth, who grew up in Halton, in Buckinghamshire, and attended John Colet School, in Wendover, provided fantastic support for the RAF Benevolent Fund’s inaugural The Dambusters Ride, helping to plan the route, organising training rides and providing tips for other participants.

The Dambusters Ride pays tribute to the Dambusters, members of the RAF's 617 Squadron who were assembled to bomb three dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley on the night of 16-17 May 1943 – also known as Operation Chastise. It was a risky raid, dropping the revolutionary bouncing bomb at low level, and the cost was high. Of 133 aircrew who left, 53 were killed and three became prisoners of war.

Not content with just taking part in The Dambusters Ride, Mike took on the challenge of cycling 5,600 miles throughout 2021to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth. (57283148)
Wing Commander Mike Ainsworth. (57283148)

Mike said: “The award is very humbling considering the considerable contributions made by a wide variety of fundraisers during 2021. Young or old, so many people go above and beyond to support the RAF Benevolent Fund’s work to help the RAF Family.”

Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “It has been wonderful to see all our generous supporters and fundraisers as we once again celebrate their efforts.

"The awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise all the great work that allows us to continue supporting RAF veterans, serving personnel and their families, and making a real improvement to their lives.

"Many congratulations to Mike and all this year’s winners, their inspirational enthusiasm, creativity, and generosity has been wonderful to see. From everyone at the RAF Benevolent Fund – thank you.”

Jason Shauness, director of fundraising and communications at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “Mike’s efforts are truly inspirational and embody the spirit of the Above and Beyond category.

"The RAF Benevolent Fund exists to support the whole of the RAF Family, whenever they need us. But we wouldn’t be able to provide this level of assistance without dedicated fundraisers, like Mike, who go the extra mile to support our mission.”

The RAF Benevolent Fund Awards is now in its 10th year, celebrating the outstanding contributions of the fundraisers, volunteers and partners who support the charity.

The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity, providing practical, financial, and emotional support to RAF personnel, veterans, and their partners and dependants.

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