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Tue 2nd Oct

Turning five with prizes and glorious colour!

rafaYOUTH celebrated its fifth birthday by offering five members the chance to win a £500 flying lesson. The lucky winners were able to choose any type of lesson – from hot air ballooning to gliding or powered flight.

Set up as an online youth membership scheme for young flying enthusiasts in August 2013, rafaYOUTH now has more than 5,000 members – all aged between 13 and 17. More than 12,548 cadets have passed through its membership in its first five years.

By the end of 2018 the organisation will have given away more than 500 prizes in monthly draws, including iTunes vouchers, skydiving, gliding days and flying lessons. Members get the chance to try all sorts of aerial experiences. “We wanted to mark our fifth birthday with something really special,” said Helen Gibson, Youth Community Manager at the Association. “Flying prizes are always highly sought after, and we always look forward to offering them”.

rafaYOUTH also promotes the RAF Association annual flying scholarships, helps branches and Association headquarters with countless Wings Appeal collections and, this year, has contributed enormously to behind-the-scenes work for the RAF100 Appeal – sticking hundreds if not thousands of stickers onto collecting buckets and tins and preparing and packing trays and trays of the RAF100 appeal lapel roundels. They have also supported and attended many hundreds of RAF100 events around the country. In July they linked up exclusively with Marks and Spencer to pack bags for shoppers and support the company’s efforts to raise funds for the RAF100 Appeal.

The Association is now running the Young Challenger Cup for teams of young people who would like to take part in the burgeoning Colour Chaos and Santa runs. rafaYOUTH members and air cadets helped the Association launch the messy, fun events in 2017, throwing different coloured powders around the runners – and getting filthy themselves in the process. rafaYOUTH also arranged for one team to test out group participation in 2017.

Helen continued: “The links between branches, rafaYOUTH and cadets has always been strongest when it comes to the Wings Appeal. The young people helped the Association raise more than £131,000 last year in street collections and by organising fundraising events. Having cadets involved as volunteers with the branches not only helps the young people’s personal development, but can also be used towards nationally recognised awards like Duke of Edinburgh. And of course, when they reach their 18th birthday, they can join as a full member of the Association, so we are helping to grow the next generation of members.”

Looking ahead, rafaYOUTH has been supporting an emerging virtual branch for the Combined Cadet Force under the auspices of the South East and Eastern Region, helping with fundraising ideas and materials and giving advice when asked. Watch this space for more news.

Here’s to another successful five years, and Air Mail hopes to be reporting on rafaYOUTH’s tenth birthday celebrations. Look out for another anniversary prize draw this coming December.