Halton RAF airman gets behind Welfare charity ‘Reaching Out’ campaign

RAF Corporal Andy Carroll, of Aylesbury and his mother Louise
RAF Corporal Andy Carroll, of Aylesbury and his mother Louise

RAF Corporal Andy Carroll, of Aylesbury, has spoken out about the support he was given from the RAF Benevolent Fund when his Mum was dying.

RAF Corporal Andy Carroll, of Aylesbury, has spoken out about the support he was given from the RAF Benevolent Fund when his Mum was dying.

In 2006, Andy’s Mum Louise was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then in January 2017, after almost 10 years in remission, Louise received the devastating news that she had bone cancer.

At the time Andy was working as a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) at RAF Halton but he rushed to be by his Mum’s side in Ballinderry following the news her cancer had spread.

Andy said: “When Mum was told she had months to live I knew I had to spend as much quality time with her as possible but being based so far away I soon started to worry about the costs and how I was going to afford to travel as often as I needed to.”

Andy got in touch with the RAF’s leading welfare charity, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund to see if they could help.

Andy, 31, explains: “I can never repay the Fund for the financial assistance I received when my Mum was poorly. It enabled me to get home quickly and spend those last precious moments with her.”

Sadly Louise passed away in January 2018.

Andy says: “Anyone who knows me knows that my Mum was my rock. She was there for me no matter what. I miss picking up the phone and calling her and I suppose that’s the hardest thing…not hearing her voice.”

“She was so proud of me being in the RAF. The way she looked at me when I graduated from RAF Halton, those are the memories I will cherish.”

As the nation joined the RAF to mark its centenary earlier this year, the RAF Benevolent Fund has launched a campaign to reach out to those who may be in need of help so it can continue to make a difference to as many RAF veterans and serving personnel as possible. The Fund’s latest Reaching Out campaign is focussed on finding veterans and their dependents living in Northern Ireland.

Air Commodore Paul Hughesdon, Director of Welfare and Policy at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “Too often, RAF veterans simply don’t know that help is at hand, that we can help. Sometimes they think that a couple of years in National Service weren’t enough to be eligible for consideration, that there is always someone more deserving than them, or they don’t want to trouble anyone with their problems.

“But the message of our campaign is simple: If you or your partner were in the RAF – or are the widow or widower of someone who was - and are in financial need, or you need advice and guidance or support, we will try to help; our respite care home is also open to everyone, regardless of their means. We passionately belief that no one in the RAF Family should face adversity alone, so we will always try to help.”

On 14 September, Andy flew out to Slovenia to take part in the Red Bull 400 with another of his RAF Halton colleagues.

Andy said: “In memory of my mother and her uphill battle with cancer I decided to complete an uphill challenge of my own, the Red Bull 400. This event challenges participants to run from the bottom of a ski jump to the top, covering 400m on a 202m elevation.

“It wasn’t about me running it as fast as I can it’s about what I was running for – and I managed to beat my target time, so I was really chuffed. We are aiming to raise £6,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, Cancer Choices, Donaghmore & The Oxygen Therapy Centre, Larne.

“I can see why people feel embarrassed about asking for help but I’m so pleased I did. I can see why some may think asking for help is a weakness but personally it gave me strength. I was able to go home and spend some time with my mum and in turn that gave me the strength to keep moving forward.

“Don’t be scared about asking for help. I know it can be daunting, but the Fund will do everything they can to break down the stigma that’s often associated with putting yourself out there and saying you need help.”

If you know of someone who might be in need of some help, please do get in touch. For more information, please call 0800 169 2942 or visit our website atwww.rafbf.org/help.

Andy’s JustGiving page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andrewcarrollrb400