Royal Air Force personnel currently serving in Lithuania on the NATO Air Policing mission, have taken time out from their operational commitments to raise money for local charities as a thank you to the local community that have given them such a warm welcome this summer.
The personnel serving with 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, whilst operating from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, have taken opportunity to use their spare time for the benefit of others and conduct several outreach events to help raise awareness and funds for local causes.
The EAW includes a team of RAF Fire Fighters who donned their equipment to run 10km around the Air Base to raise money for the Alka Children’s charity that provides a loving home for children who have family, mental and physical challenges. The team of four firefighters ran in the heat of the day and their efforts saw donations arrive from the UK, Lithuania and from the Spanish Detachment at Šiauliai Air Base.
Cpl Nick Slaney, the organiser of the run said:
“I am very happy and proud of the efforts put in by all who made these fundraising events possible. It was important to me that we could have a positive impact in the local area and could support a fantastic charity like Alka. This money will go a long way to helping them and I hope this inspires others to continue helping worthy causes.”
As the EAW begins getting ready to return to the UK, they were able to donate 40 new unused mattresses to the Šiauliai Municipality Shelter for the homeless. The mattresses that previously been purchased for COVID-19 precautions that fortunately had not been required,
The director of the Shelter, Vida Salniene said:
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Royal Air Force for their help in improving the living conditions of the residents, who have experienced social exclusion and hardships. Thank you for your humanity and understanding.”
The charity efforts for the EAW culminated with some of the personnel volunteering to organise, with the Šiauliai Municipality, a charity football tournament. The United Šiauliai Tournament brought together teams from the RAF, Lithuanian Air Force, the local Police, a military veterans of Šiauliai team and most notably the professional Women’s team from the city, who play in the Lithuanian National League.
The tournament was won by the local Police team, beating the RAF 1-0 in the final.
Wing Cdr Stu Gwinnutt, the EAW Commander, expressed his gratitude to the participants and announced that £3400 had been raised for local charities. He said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to support two really worthy charities in our local town of Šiauliai, the children’s orphanage ‘Alka’ and the Šiauliai Homeless Shelter . All of these efforts not only raised a lot of money, but it helped our detachment to make new friends with our local hosts.”