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Widow of former Southwell rugby player killed in Afghanistan joins RAF fund’s 100th anniversary reception


By Advertiser Reporter


The widow of a former Southwell rugby player killed in Afghanistan joined the RAF Benevolent Fund to help mark its 100th anniversary.

The charity celebrated the occasion with an afternoon tea at the RAF Club followed by a reception at St James’s Palace hosted by the charity’s president, His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.

The charity brought together ten decades of beneficiaries for a one-off photoshoot, including 54-year-old Jacqui Thompson.

MILITARY widow Jacqui Thompson (fourth from the right) and other members of the RAF family the fund has supported.
MILITARY widow Jacqui Thompson (fourth from the right) and other members of the RAF family the fund has supported.

Jacqui’s husband, Gary Thompson, a reservist with the RAF Regiment, was killed in Afghanistan in 2008 when his vehicle was hit by a landmine.

Mr Thompson , who was 51 when he died, captained Southwell Rugby Club 3rds for three years, jointly captained the club for four years, and was a member for eight years.

After his death, the RAF Benevolent Fund reached out to Jacqui to offer its support, including financial assistance that allowed the family to begin rebuilding their lives and helped put two of her daughters through university.

Jacqui delivered a speech at the reception at St James’s Palace talking about her experience.

She said: “The fund was there for us from the very beginning and that support made a world of difference, so I’m incredibly proud to have been able to share my story and celebrate 100 years of the RAF Benevolent Fund.”

Since Gary’s death, Jacqui has worked tirelessly to raise money for and awareness of the welfare charity.

Her fundraising work was recognised when she received an award from Prince Harry at RAF Honington.

To mark its centenary, the RAF Benevolent Fund has launched a major campaign calling on the public to Join The Search. Change A Life.

It asks the public to help find individuals who have served in the RAF, or their partners, and may now be in need. The charity believes there are up to 100,000, mainly older, members of the RAF family in urgent need of support but are not seeking it.

To refer someone to the RAF Benevolent Fund, go to rafbf.org or call 0300 102 1919.

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