On 5 February 2024, five members of the April Fools Club will be taking on a four-day trek across the Falkland Islands to raise money for the RAF’s leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund.
RAF veterans Stuart Hulley (Stu), 57, from Buckinghamshire and Martin Wintermeyer, 60, from Rutland, are two members of the club who will be taking part in the challenge, walking almost 100 miles across the battlefield sites of the 1982 Falklands Conflict.
Stu and Martin both served for 20 years as Navigators on Tornado planes. The pair will be joined by RAF veteran Paul Belham, 55, and two more April Fools Club members Ian Revell, 60, and Bill Holloway, 63, on the trek.
The April Fools Club is a fellowship community building relationships between the RAF and business in the UK and the USA. The club has raised nearly £1million for RAF charities since its inception in 2008. It takes its name from the formation date of the Royal Air Force.
“The RAF was very good to me and I’m proud of my service. I wanted to do something to give back. I haven’t done anything as physically demanding as this since leaving the military – it’s been an excellent target for us all to improve our fitness.
“I’m most looking forward to visiting places of legend, made famous by the heroics of the class of ’82. I was at school at the time, but I’ve got to know some of these veterans over the years and it is important to all of us to pay tribute to those who have fallen and lay crosses of remembrance.”
“We’ve taken requests from veterans, if they’ve got a friend or location where they’d like to see remembrance. We’ll be there for 11 days and following the trek we’ll be visiting the troops at Mount Pleasant RAF base, attending social events, presenting a plaque from the April Fools Club and meeting with the Governor and Islanders.”
The team have been taking on group training exercises including two weekend training events and solo training exercises to increase their fitness and enable them to walk 20 miles per day for the 138km trek.
“I was clear from the start that this was going to be a tough challenge, and everyone had to be physically fit to achieve it. As well as the physical side, we have had to prepare emotionally and mentally; visiting the war graves is going to be an emotional hit.
“The RAF Benevolent Fund has been a charity close to my heart since joining the air force and I am honoured to be able to support those less fortunate than myself.
“I know loads of people who have been supported by the Fund. I’ve been involved with the RAF Widows Association and am aware of the fantastic work of the Listening and Counselling service run by the Fund – as well as the outstanding respite holiday home in Yorkshire; the support is just amazing.”
“Raising awareness of the work of the Fund is so important, as well as raising vital funds to support serving personnel and veterans who may need it.”
The team have raised over £8000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund so far. The money raised will go towards the listening and counselling service at the Fund, offering confidential support to those dealing with a range of issues including stress, bereavement, anxiety, and loneliness.
You can donate to the team’s fundraiser here.
The RAF Benevolent Fund provides financial, emotional, and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families. This includes grants to help with financial difficulty, mental health support, Airplay youth clubs, and more.