Award-winning garden designer, John Everiss, helped the RAF Benevolent Fund develop their garden display, earning a Silver Award at the Show. It features a four-meter sculpture of a young pilot looking up at the sky; a moving tribute for all those who have served and continue to serve in the RAF.
The garden will now be relocated to its new permanent site at London Biggin Hill Airport, where visitors can continue to sit and reflect on the service and sacrifice of all the RAF and civilian personnel. It opens on the 15th September, falling on the anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Visitors were treated to a spectacular performance from the Wind Quintet of the Band of the RAF Regiment while members of the RAF family young and old also attended the garden, including several RAF Air Cadets and RAF Veterans Sybil Piper and Michael Powel.
The RAF Benevolent Fund hopes the garden will inspire others to reflect on their personal connections with the RAF, inviting famous faces to share their poignant stories during the Show.
Hollywood actor, Colin McFarlane, read a diary extract written by his father Sidney, who was awarded an MBE in 2021 for serving 30-years in the Armed Forces.
Actress Sue Holderness performed a sentimental poem in honour of her father and uncles, who served in World War Two.
TV presenter Charlene White performed a reading for her father who served in the RAF, and uncle who served is the Army.
The garden also aims to promote the benefit gardening can have for mental health and wellbeing on the RAF workforce. The RAF Benevolent Fund provides plots at the RAF Leeming Polytunnels, such as one plot owner, Amileigh. She suffers with a great deal of anxiety and stress, following alopecia from a young age, and moving around as the daughter of an RAF serviceman and now as the wife of a Corporal second line engineering support, workshop supervisor.
World War Two Veteran, Colin Bell, also attended. He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for completing operations as a Mosquito Bomber Pilot. Colin joined the war effort towards the end of the conflict and carried out 50 bombing raids over Germany, including 13 over Berlin.
Former Corporal, Rob Bugden, is now an ambassador for RAF Benevolent Fund. It has supported Rob during his recovery from a parachute accident, that left him paralysed following several broken vertebrae and a severely damaged spinal cord. The Fund purchased a house and adapted it to fully cater to his specific needs.
Congratulations to the RAF Benevolent Fund for their success not only at the Show but in supporting mental health and opening conversations about our connections with the RAF. You can still visit the garden at its new home at London Biggin Hill Airport, on the 15th September.