Barry Furness, of Fareham, Hampshire, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours awards in recognition of his work for the Royal Air Forces Association –the charity that provides welfare support to the RAF family.
Nick Bunting, Secretary General of the Association said, “Since 1974, Barry has worked ceaselessly to promote the aims of the Royal Air Forces Association and in doing so has reached a huge variety of people. His remarkable drive, infectious enthusiasm and strong leadership, in posts from the bottom to the top of the Association, have inspired those he has reached and greatly strengthened support for the Association, locally and nationally and abroad.”
In 1984 Barry was awarded a Queen’s Commendation for distinguished service during his time as a search & rescue helicopter winch-man and in 1987 he was given an Air Officer Commanding in Chief’s Commendation for his outstanding contribution when serving at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. There, he also had a major role in creating the Aphrodite Branch of the RAF Association and was later its Secretary. He did this while also running the RAF station youth club and maintaining his voluntary duty of RAF Association Liaison Officer. On returning to the UK and in his retirement Barry continued in his devotion to the Association, taking on a variety of roles in both Chivenor and Fareham branches, working tirelessly to raise funds and deliver welfare support to those in need across both communities. These roles include branch Chairman, Secretary, Wings Appeal Organiser, Honorary Welfare Officer, Branch Delegate and Standard Bearer. All the roles were entirely voluntary and he still holds most of them today. Barry has also served on area & central Councils, working in support of the Association’s members and those that the charity helps. He still sits on area Council.
Outside the Association, he has been a trustee and managing committee member of RAFA Housing Ltd, a privately registered company and exempt charity which provides sheltered housing to former members of the RAF. He also regularly assists the Royal British Legion with its annual Poppy Appeal and is a member of the Civilian Committee of 1350 Squadron of the Air Training Corps.
Like his father before him, Barry is known as Smokey Furness. His father was also awarded a British Empire Medal in 1946.
Nick Bunting, Secretary General of the Association added: “We are delighted to hear of this recognition of Barry’s voluntary work. He actively encourages local involvement in fundraising and brings the local community together, reaching across multiple generations. It has also just been announced that he has been awarded a National Presidential Certificate by Air Marshal Sir Baz North, President of the RAF Association.”