31 Sqn Charity Fundraiser Exceeds All Expectations

While Tornado GR4 aircraft are touching down at RAF Marham, returning from Operation ELLAMY, Officer Commanding 31 Squadron Wing Commander Jim Mulholland, is at the start line of a 416 metre running track. The Goldstars are in groups at 104 metre intervals around the track. They are preparing to attempt to beat the World Record marathon time of 2:03:38 seconds set by Kenya’s Patrick Makou and run a total of 409 x 104 metre legs – nine each; with the Boss leading from the front and running ten.

At first look the challenge appears comfortable, but after one hour of flat out sprinting all of the participants are feeling the strain, however they are determined to succeed. This event is the culmination of an immense challenge the Squadron had set themselves of covering 31,000 miles in the hope of raising £31,000. In typical fashion the Squadron have far exceeded their goal. For the past four months not only have they flown over 2,000 hours in support of International Security Force personnel, produced 100% availability of their Tornado GR4s to support the Air requests from the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) and held Ground Alert Close Air Support (GCAS) day and night for over 110 continuous days. They have also managed to raise over £40,000 and run, cycle and row over 40,000 miles on the roads or in the gymnasiums of Kandahar Air Force Base.

After four months on Operations, the Goldstars continue to support their challenge with vigour. Apart from the crews and engineers holding GCAS, the entire squadron has turned up to support or participate in their final challenge. As the Boss sets off for his first 100 metre sprint it is clear this challenge has been well received and the commitment and drive of the Goldstars results in them achieving a time of 1:41:12. This is an average of 15.5 seconds, per 100 metres, per person.

Flight Lieutenant Shane Rutherford who came up with the 31 Squadron challenge said, “Congratulations must go to the entire squadron. To serve your country on an Operation where you routinely support multinational personnel on the ground, fills you with immense pride and satisfaction. For us to do that and raise such a significant amount of money I feel a great sense of achievement both as an individual and as a member of 31 Squadron.” The money we have raised for Help for Heroes, Tickets for Troops and Epilepsy action is so significant it will change lives. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in our challenge, every single individual should feel our pride in achieving this goal. Without you all it would not have been possible.’

The Squadron has raised so much money that they are considering supporting even more charities, some of which will be from the local area. Wing Commander Mulholland who has seen his team unite, both in their primary and secondary roles, to achieve this mammoth challenge said  “I have a very close-knit team that always goes above and beyond that required; they routinely set themselves a target and then smash it. I am immensely proud of all of my team but if I was to pick out a couple of individuals then examples of the effort expended are: Sgt Kev Palmer, who is a mechanical engineer who has led his team to help to ensure we have had 100% availability, and also covered over 2,000 miles on a bike in his spare time; and Flight Lieutenant Alex Stewart, a Weapons Systems Operator, who has amassed over 140 hours in the skies of Afghanistan, and also rowed 126km in 12 hours, took part in the Kandahar ‘Great North Run,’ and in just over a month will attempt to row across the Atlantic in support of Help for Heroes. We have exhausted every avenue we could think of to raise the money we have and I would personally like to thank everyone who has not only taken part, but also contributed and supported us; it is an incredible achievement for everyone.”

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