Red 10 signals start of charity drive in aid of RAF Benevolent Fund.

An annual international charity drive involving 19 cars was started by Red 10, in support of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Squadron Leader Adam Collins dropped the flag to set the drivers on their way in this year’s Beaujolais Run.

Beaujolais Run participants gather around Red Arrows jets at RAF Scampton.
Beaujolais Run participants gather around Red Arrows jets at RAF Scampton. Image by: Nick Williams

RAF Scampton was chosen as the starting point, in tribute to the brave crews of 617 Squadron who took part in the Dambusters raid 75 years ago.

It is the first time since its inception in 1970 that the run has started in Lincolnshire – the original home of Squadron.

Nineteen teams, emulating the 19 Lancasters which departed from RAF Scampton in 1943, made their way through Holland to France, before they ‘bring home the Beaujolais’, taking the shortest route possible.

Squadron Leader Collins said: “As a Red Arrows pilot you are invited to all sorts of events, but this is a first for me.

“Dropping the starter’s flag brings together two of my passions though, in aviation and sports cars, and this is a dynamic endeavour to raise money and support for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

“The event is also a very visible way of paying respects to the Dambusters and their raid of 1943.”

Red 10 signals the start of the 2018 Beaujolais Run.
Red 10 signals the start of the 2018 Beaujolais Run. Image by: Nick Williams

Run Director Rob Bellinger said: “Commemorating the Dambusters and 617 Squadron’s 75th anniversary could not be more special.

“With support from the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Dutch Air Force the Run will let its participants live the story of the 133 brave men who left the UK bound for Europe during wartime. They will be ably assisted in this commemoration by many partners including Toyota GB, Lexus, Champagne Taittinger and Louis Latour.”

Mark Quinn, RAF Benevolent Fund Area Director, said: “We are already bowled over by the incredibly generous support shown by the Beaujolais Run competitors and we cannot wait to see how this year’s Run unfolds.

“The RAF Benevolent Fund has stood side-by-side with the RAF for almost 100 years and in that time supported many of the families who were left bereaved by the Dambusters Raid.

“Now, as we did then, we stand ready to support the RAF Family, whenever they need us – a pledge we simply could not fulfil without the support of events like the Beaujolais Run.”

Each of this year’s vehicles will commemorate the families of the crews and are designated with the call sign of one of the planes from the Operation Chastise raid of 1943.

After leaving Lincolnshire the cars followed the route of the wartime aviators and crossed into Holland, where they paid their respects on Armistice Sunday at the grave of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, leader of the dams raids.

Later that afternoon, crews were granted special access to the Royal Netherlands Air Force Base at Gilze Rijen to lay a wreath in honour of the crew of Lancaster ‘S’ for Sugar who perished nearby. A memorial on the base, to the crew of AJ-S, and made from Rolls-Royce Merlin pistons, serves as a permanent tribute to those that left RAF Scampton but sadly didn’t return.

Those interested in entering the 2019 ‘Run which is entitled The Great Escape can do so by visiting and donating £10 to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund - RAF’s leading welfare charity – to receive details. The Beaujolais Run® is a not for profit event with all funds raised passed in full to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

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