On Monday 7th December we were honoured to be in the presence of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent as he kindly opened the new seaside apartments at Princess Marina House in West Sussex.

The complex is owned by the RAF Benevolent Fund and is a permanent facility for retired and current members of the Royal Air Force. Staffed by an excellent team of 45 professionals it provides vital care and respite facilities for the RAF family.

Roger Wood, Tony Hambleton, John Fay MBE and Graeme Shankland chatting with HRH The Duke of Kent

The money we raised from following the legendary yomp that The Royal Marines and The Parachute Regiment undertook in 1982 from San Carlos to Port Stanley made a significant contribution to the development of two new respite apartments for RAF personnel and their families. These respite apartments allow families to reconnect and rebuild after periods of difficulty. With the demands of the modern service and the lengthy separations necessitated by overseas deployments, these apartments are vital for the long term welfare of brave people who selflessly defend our great nation.

Sharing a few Falklands tales on the couch in the aptly named Jesters Court

April Fools Club President and Falklands Expedition Leader Graeme Shankland commented “What a fantastic day where our Club celebrated the magnificent contribution we all made to enable these superb respite apartments to be commissioned and built. In particular, we are very grateful that HRH The Duke of Kent took the time to grace us with his presence and open the apartments. We also are extremely grateful to all those who sponsored our efforts to raise over £200,000 for this great cause. I would like to mention Falklands team members Andy Papadopoulos, Tari Mirza, Mike Fay, Steve Howard and Graeme Yorston who for business reasons sadly could not be here today, you were in our thoughts. Long may this facility provide happiness and rest for Royal Air Force families”

The first families begin using the apartments next week. A very real and lasting legacy of the blisters and bruises from yomping across the Falkland Islands.