Methley’s mini hero ‘Jacob the pilot’ raises RAF funds.

An RAF obsessed 6 year old Jacob from Methley has combined his love of the Royal Air Force with raising money for their benevolent fund. Jacobs father, Andy, got in touch with us to tell us all about his fundraising efforts that to date have totalled an amazing £7500.

Andy continues….”Jacob has loved aircraft all his life and we have been attending air shows since he was 9 months old wearing a RAF Flying Suit. Last year we went to the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and Jacob was disappointed that he didn’t get many salutes in his flying suit from air force personnel. 

This year on Friday 19th July I tweeted a picture of Jacob saluting asking for officers at RIAT to return a salute to him. The tweet went viral and the RAF contacted us stating they’d like to do something for Jacob at RIAT when we visited them on Sunday 21st July. We met the RAF at the air show and they took us across to where the Red Arrows were on a live dispersal area around 30 minutes before doing their display. They all lined up in number order and saluted Jacob to which he promptly stood to attention and returned their salute. Jacob was beyond amazed and a week or so later still talking about it.

We decided as a family we wanted to say thank you by raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund and after some deliberation decided on a challenge where, with my help, Jacob would climb Pen-Y-Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales whilst wearing his flying suit. Our expectations were to rasie maybe a few hundred pound. 

I started to advertise it on Facebook and set up Jacob’s own twitter account and within 3 hours on the first day it passed £500 and by the end of the day it had passed £1000. We raised a total of £6500 in around five weeks through the power of social media.

Jacob enjoyed the challenge so much plus the interaction he has had with various RAF bases inviting him to visit and see their aircraft, we have decided to do an even harder challenge in 2020 and hope to surpass this year’s total.

So the next challenge will take place on the 80th anniversary of the evacuation of troops at Dunkirk. Jacob is going to walk the escape and evasion route of Pilot Officer Al Deere on the 28th May, 80 years to the day he was shot down over Dunkirk. This character was played by Tom Hardy in the Christopher Nolan movie Dunkirk which is loosely based on Al Deere who was a fighter ace during WW2. On the 28th May 1940 Al Deere crash landed his Spitfire on a Belgium beach close to Oostduinkerke. He suffered a head injury and was helped by a Belgium soldier to a church where his head wound was bandaged. He then made his way to the East Mole at Dunkirk in France where he was eventually evacuated back to England on a ship that landed him at Dover.

Jacobs challenge starts at the church in Belgium and wearing his flying suit we are going to walk to the crash site of the Spitfire and then head along the entire beach that was used to evacuate troops to the East Mole at Dunkirk. The distance is approximately 25km (15 miles) and too far for a 6 year old to walk in one day, so we are going to spend the night in the sand dunes and complete the walk on the 29th May. We’ll be self-sufficient for the two days sleeping as the British Army did 80 years ago to the day.”

To sponsor Jacob for this fantastic cause please visit his just giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-newson2

You can also follow his journey on twitter, find his account by searching @Jacob_The_Pilot

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