“The Fund were like angels that came knocking on my door”

When Caroline lost her husband 25 years ago, her world fell apart overnight. But thanks to the support of the RAF Benevolent Fund’s Community Engagement Worker’s over the years, Caroline has been able to find care, understanding and a sense of community once more.

Caroline Davidson, 65, was born into the RAF with her father working as Aircrew in the Second World War and retiring as an Air Traffic Control Officer in 1976.

Whilst stationed at RAF Waddington as a dependent and working in the Salvation Army canteen on camp, having recently finished her O levels, Caroline met her future husband Roger at the age of 17. Roger had been based in Cyprus at the time but had been posted to Waddington for a short tour.

They got married the day after Caroline’s 19th birthday and had three daughters together. Roger’s career progressed in the RAF Police Force, and he became a Special Investigator Scenes of Crime Officer serving for 27 years.

Caroline, who had been married to Roger for 22 years, describes the moment her world and family life changed as she knew it. She said:

“Roger started to get ill, and we found out he had incurable cancer pretty much straight away. Every bit of good news was knocked down with bad news – it was a horrible time.”

Caroline was studying to be a special needs assistant whilst volunteering at their daughters’ primary school as a classroom assistant at the time. Although Caroline’s plans changed when Roger’s health deteriorated.

Roger had always donated monthly to the Fund’s Service Day’s Pay Giving scheme throughout his RAF career, so when Roger passed away, Caroline thought the charity might be able to help. She said:

“I remember the roof caved in on my daughter’s bedroom. I was literally sliding down the wall in tears thinking, ‘How am I going to pay for this roof?’ Then there was a knock on the door that same day; the Fund came round to visit.

“I’ve always said the Fund were like angels that came knocking on my door.”

Over the years, Caroline received financial assistance as a widow with young children, as well as emotional and bereavement support.

Caroline currently attends a monthly breakfast club with the Fund at RAF Waddington. She said:

“I’ve been a member of the RAF Widows’ Association since Roger died. I’ve met people who I can really relate to. My sister comes along too as she is now widowed.

“Meeting likeminded people has made a big difference to me, and the Fund’s Community Engagement Workers in the area, Lyn Doney and Alan Creeth, are excellent at running the sessions, making us feel welcome and looking after us.”

Caroline continued:

“I feel I can talk freely in the group and not be judged. The RAF Family can relate to each other and understand each other in a way that no one else can.”

The support Caroline has received from the Fund has helped to improve her mental health. She said:

“Sometimes it’s not so much about grief as it is loneliness. It didn’t truly hit me until my three girls had left home. It’s been tough but something inside me has settled down over these last couple of years – I don’t feel so awful.”

The Community Engagement team have invited Caroline to attend a range of events over the years. She said:

“It’s been lovely; I’ve been a VIP guest three times at Waddington Airshow, I’ve had days out at RAF Binbrook, dinners at RAF camps, and I was kindly gifted a Christmas hamper from the Fund in 2023 which I shared out amongst my family. I’m eternally thankful for their continuous support.”

Our Executive Members

By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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