Last month we travelled to Compton Abbas Airfield in Dorset to meet two pilots who have raised thousands for the Royal British Legion.
Jason Davidson and Simon Shackell flew in specially to tell us all about a remarkable challenge they took on in May.
To mark the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, they undertook a commemorative flight to recognise the technical skills, ingenuity and courage of those who conducted the legendary air operation.
And in doing so, they have already raised over £3,000 for the Royal British Legion!
Watch below as we meet Jason and Simon, who tell us about the challenge and why they chose to raise funds for the RBL.
We were delighted to gift Jason and Simon a 2023 Royal British Legion Poppy® Silver Proof £5 each as well as the FINAL 2023 Poppy® Silver Masterpiece Coin to be struck to honour their achievements and thank them for their fundraising efforts…
Watch the interview and gifting in full below or read on to find out more about Jason and Simon’s story…
Jason and Simon’s Story
Both Simon and Jason have a close connection to the military – Jason served in the Parachute Regiment for over 22 years and his twin brother was also in the RAF. Simon’s father was a navigator in the RAF during National Service.
They took on the challenge as they were inspired by the bravery and skill that the 617 Squadron showed. Simon said that the idea was to “champion the engineering aspect” as well as the airmanship. “It really struck home how difficult that would have been, and how dangerous. The airmanship was what blew me away”, Jason said.
On 16th May 2023, the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, Jason and Simon began their challenge – departing from the RAF St Athan airfield site on a mission to pass over 8 locations:
- Chesil Beach, Dorset – testing location for the “bouncing bomb”
- Reculver Bay, Kent – testing location for the “bouncing bomb”
- East Kirkby Aviation Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire – a unique living museum to the Dambusters and home of ‘Just Jane’.
- Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire – home of the Dambusters Memorial
- RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire – the wartime base of the 617 Squadron and location where the Raid was launched
- Derwent Dam, Sheffield – a location closely resembling the Möhne Dam where the Dambusters practiced for the Raid.
- Nant-y-Gro Dam, Rhayader – the site where Barnes Wallis successfully demonstrated the concept of the depth charge mine.
- Penarth, Glamorgan – the site of Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s memorial and his wartime home.
Jason and Simon conducted each flight using only maps, stopwatches and compasses to navigate as the Dambusters did.
The 2023 Official RBL Poppy® Coin Range
For nearly 20 years, The Westminster Collection has released coins in support of the Royal British Legion – and collectors have raised over £1.25 million for the RBL.
The 2023 coin range is available to order now but with stock selling fast, you’ll need to act today to secure your tribute…
Since 2004 The Westminster Collection has been proud partners with the Royal British Legion, and throughout that time collectors like you have raised a remarkable £1.25 MILLION for the organisation!
This is an incredible amount that could enable the RBL’s dedicated frontline advisors to help over 7,590 people in the Armed Forces community and their families get access to the help that they need.
To mark this milestone, earlier this year we had the pleasure of presenting the Royal British Legion with a cheque from collectors for the staggering amount.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Robert Benham, Regional Lead – Admiral Nursing – Hampshire, who told us all about the important work of the RBL Admiral Nurse Service.
And in today’s blog, we explain more about the specialist Admiral Nurse Service and share the story of Dorothy and Angus Weir…
What is the Admiral Nurses Service?
The Royal British Legion works in partnership with Dementia UK to provide Admiral Nurses – a specialist service helping the Armed Forces community and their families living with dementia.
RBL’s Admiral Nurses Service has been supporting families living with dementia since 2012, giving personalised and holistic support to the whole family. RBL Admiral Nurses give one-to-one support, expert guidance, and practical solutions to help the family to live well with their diagnosis and face the future with more confidence.
RBL nurses work in the community, supporting families through home visits and through telephone and video contact. Each family we support is under the care of a dedicated Admiral Nurse, who will support them throughout their time with the service.
Each nurse provides a range of support, advice, advocacy, and education to families, including:
- Identifying potential needs amongst carers (such as depression and anxiety) that are often pushed into the background and arrange for or provide appropriate support.
- Working with carers to build their confidence in their caring role and improve their mental wellbeing (for example reducing their feelings of loneliness and isolation… We support them to re-establish their relationship as a spouse, as well as supporting their role as a carer.
- Listening to families’ concerns, helping to identify practical solutions to reduce the fear and stress faced by carers.
- Explaining the reasoning behind advice given to the family by other professionals, helping to make complex information easily understandable during times of great difficulty.
- Advocating for families, liaising with other bodies (such as GPs and community mental health teams) to make sure all the necessary support is in place.
- Helping families prepare for end-of-life care or a move into a care home, and supporting them to transition and adjust to their new circumstances.
Each RBL Admiral Nurse supports approximately 45 families at any one time.
Dorothy and Angus Weir
Dorothy lives in Swansea with her husband of 49 years, Angus. Dorothy’s family is steeped in military history, going back five generations. She grew up with a father who served in the Second World War, and a grandfather who served too.
Angus served in the Army with the 15th 19th The Kings Road Hussars for around 10 years, with postings in Germany, France, Norway and Libya.
Sadly, Angus has several health problems including bipolar disorder, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Dorothy is his sole carer.
“Caring for Angus impacts my life massively,” says Dorothy. “His long-term memory is brilliant – he can talk about his time in the Army until the cows come home! But, he can’t tell you what happened yesterday.”
Last year, Dorothy was put in touch with the RBL’s Admiral Nurse service and since then they have provided her with practical advice, and emotional and psychological support.
Dorothy says: “When you become a carer for someone, that’s what identifies you. Even my children would describe me as ‘Dad’s carer’, so you lose some of who you are. The mental health team treated me as a carer, not as a wife, but Helen my Admiral Nurse focuses on me as me, as my own person.”
“She [Helen] talks to me about dementia, how it works, and has given me a lot of information I didn’t know.
“That helps me cope because I can understand what Angus is doing.
“We don’t just talk about Angus, we talk about crafting and our similar interests, which I don’t normally get to talk to about with anybody.
“I also talk to her about feeling lonely,” Dorothy adds. “I can have all the children here and still feel a bit lonely, and she understands that.
The funds raised by The Westminster Collection through sales of the Poppy Coins helps the Royal British Legion continue to provide its life-changing services like the Admiral Nurses.
Introducing the Official 2023 RBL Coin Range
For nearly 20 years, we’ve been proud to support the Royal British Legion, issuing coins and commemoratives in partnership of the organisation.
And we have just revealed this year’s, fully approved, one-year-only design…
By ordering today, you’ll be directly supporting the RBL, allowing the charity to continue its incredible work providing financial, social and life-long support for the Armed Forces community.
The Westminster Collection is proud to reveal the Official RBL £5 Coin for 2023, featuring a fully approved, one-year-only design and issued in support of the Royal British Legion and our Armed Forces community.
Prices start from JUST £25 (+p&p) – discover the range below:
JUST £25: The 2023 Royal British Legion £5 Coin
This year’s poignant design features the timeless and meaningful Royal British Legion Poppy® in vivid colour. It also features an intricately illustrated commemorative wreath and the Cenotaph – the United Kingdom’s national war memorial in Whitehall – in the background. The inscription “Lest We Forget” is included along with the 2023 year date in Roman numerals.
You can secure yours for JUST £25. So feel proud and order yours today.
Official Silver Proof £5 Supports the Royal British Legion
One of the most anticipated releases this year, the 2023 Poppy® Silver Proof £5 Coin has been struck from Sterling Silver to a perfect Proof finish.
A strict edition limit of ONLY 4,995 has been confirmed. And with collectors eagerly awaiting the NEW Silver £5, high demand is expected.
The Strictly Limited Poppy® Piedfort
ONLY 500 collectors in the world will be able to secure this impressive Piedfort specification saluting our servicemen and women.
Officially approved by His Majesty King Charles III himself, a swift sell out is expected. Place your reservation today with a deposit of JUST £24.50.
BRAND NEW Masterpiece features a GENUINE piece of Avro Lancaster
Simply put, the 2023 Poppy Masterpiece Silver 5oz Poppy Coin is one of the finest and most stunning pieces of minting collectors have seen in a long time.
Inspired by the story of the Dambusters Squadron who embarked on their legendary mission 80 years ago, the impressive design features a Lancaster Bomber dropping the Royal British Legion Poppy onto The Mall.
And that Lancaster Bomber has been crafted from a genuine piece of Avro Lancaster PA474. Click below to find out more.
Proudly supporting the Royal British Legion
Collectors like you have raised an incredible £1.25 MILLION for the Royal British Legion. And importantly, by ordering one of this year’s remarkable coins, you’ll be directly supporting the RBL, allowing the charity to continue its incredible work providing financial, social and life-long support to the Armed Forces community.