Catering Flight… Something Funny for Money
With 2015 forecasting for RAF Marham set to be yet another busy year, and with Comic Relief upon us, the staff of the Catering Flight decided to join together and support two great charities in doing a 24 hour ‘Cyclethon.’
I was sat in the office and the question was posed by Ross Jaeger “what will you be doing funny for money Cpl Davidson?” After many daft and inappropriate ideas had been ruled out the Catering Warrant Officer agreed to us attempting a 24 hour Cyclethon and a goal was set to raise £500. No sooner had the decision been made for our mammoth tasking that laid ahead wheels (pardon the pun) were set in motion.
First stop, station gym, and with enthusiastic support from FS Keane we managed to secure two spinning and three static bikes. Next was publicity; advertising our challenge to the station, a willing poster boy was chosen, SAC Darren McCreath – or maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and with a little magic from Joe ‘Graphics’ our poster was done. Then came the uphill challenge of composing the 24 hour rota for the 30 brave volunteers of the Catering Flt. Whilst dealing with the normal daily messing of breakfast, lunch and dinner, we managed to have a minimum of two bikes running throughout the 24 hour period, with our finely tuned ‘athletes’ completing a minimum of 30 minutes per turn, and an advised maximum of two hours.
D-Day arrived at precisely 11am on the 12th March 2015; kick started by the Station Warrant Officer and the Catering Warrant Officer, though neither had ridden a bike since their Penny Farthing days both set off at a healthy pace and surprisingly neither managed to do themselves too much damage…. The pedals continued to spin, with big smiles and friendly voices explaining what we were doing, we greeted the customers and they gave generously over lunch and dinner, enthusiasm remained high and spirits were good well into the late evening, but as the temperature dropped and the team got smaller the reality set in at the 12 hour point of how long was left of our challenge, and of not being able to sit down and rest. Into the early hours the music kept pumping however the groans of sitting on the bike grew louder we were down to one hour on, two hours off which does sound a lot but after a day on shift and the seats becoming more and more uncomfortable, no sooner had we got out of the saddle it was time to be back on again. At 4am (an hour earlier than they needed to be in work) in rolled the early shift reinforcements (a sight for tired eyes and sore butts) no time for a brew they were soon appropriately stretched and warmed up before taking their places on the bikes and their fresh legs began pedalling. As dawn began to break, and with the mess starting to come back to life with well rested fresh faces and legs the night shift team slipped away to splash some water on their faces and Vaseline on their inner thighs to revive themselves ready for the final few hours.
As the last hour drew near the final five riders took to their bikes armed with red noses or fancy dress with a great sense of pride and achievement. Acting Station Commander, Wing Commander Smith donned his lycra to assist with the final push in closing out an exhausted but jubilant Catering 24 hour Cyclethon. Although unsure of exactly how much we had raised we felt confident that we has surpassed the £500 target on the way to cycling a very respectable 860 miles.
With weary legs and heavy eyes no sooner had it began than the event was over (easy to say now), the bikes quickly went back to the gym, the money put into the safe ready to be counted with fresh eyes on the Monday, we gave our congratulations to a job well done and agreed those who had cycled throughout the night should go to bed and rest ready to cycle another day or indeed ready to cook at the weekend as the case was for some lucky individuals.
The final total raised was £526.18; £267.58 was given to the RAF Benevolent Fund and £258.80 was given to Comic Relief.
A huge well done and thanks to all that took part and a massive Thank You to all personnel for their generosity and support throughout the event!