The Countess of Wessex was all smiles on Wednesday as she visited RAF Wittering to open new play parks funded by the RAF Benevolent Fund. The countess, who serves as Honorary Air Commodore of Royal Air Force Wittering, was joined by more than 200 children from Wittering Primary School at the event.
The RAF Benevolent Fund is celebrating its centenary this year and provides support to RAF personnel, their families and veterans. The refurbished play parks are part of their Airplay youth support scheme and were made possible by a £196,000 grant from the Fund.
During her visit to Cambridgeshire, Sophie took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new play areas and met with some of the children, members of RAF Wittering’s community team, the RAF Benevolent Fund, and Proludic UK, who created the play spaces.
Designs were submitted to Proludic UK from some of the village children and the firm worked closely with them to help turn their ideas into reality. “The play parks have been completely renewed, with the main area on St. George’s Road fitted with a brand-new surface, zip wire, climbing frame and timber features,” according to RAF Wittering.
Rhianna Pollard, who is chairperson of the youth committee, told RAF Wittering she enjoyed meeting the countess. ”She was really nice and got along with children well and was very impressed with the play park and was really interested in the young people in general.”
The RAF Benevolent Fund has given over £400,000 in grants to RAF Wittering personnel since 2015, assisting with a wide range of issues including financial problems, illness, bereavement, childcare and relationship difficulties, and many other concerns facing RAF families.
Regional Director Mark Quinn said: “Airplay is the RAF Benevolent Fund’s flagship youth support scheme, supporting thousands of young people living on RAF stations. We know life can sometimes be tough for military families, with parents being deployed and moving around regularly, that’s why the Fund provides play parks like these.”
Wednesday marked a busy day for Sophie, who also attended a fundraising dinner as patron of the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association, as well as a 20th-anniversary reception in memory of Jill Dando at the Royal Society. Next Monday she will leave for a five-day tour of India, visiting Mumbai, Hyderabad, and New Delhi on behalf of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.