The third annual SSAFA Red Arrows Pull took place last weekend in RAF Akrotiri to raise funds and awareness for the Akrotiri SSAFA Committee which looks after current serving members of the Armed Forces and their families.
The event has become a major event during the Red Arrows visit and has grown yearly thanks to the efforts of the SSAFA staff.
Emma Perrin, the Chair of the Akrotiri SSAFA In Service Committee and one of the main organisers for this year's pull, explained the thinking behind the charity and awareness event.
She said: "Life in the Forces is unique, so occasionally families may need a helping hand. Here at Akrotiri and on most military bases, SSAFA have a network of trained volunteers ready to provide practical and emotional support when needed most.
"Back in 2012 the SSAFA committee approached Akrotiri gym to ask if they had any ideas about a 'physical activity' that could help raise money. Sgt Colin Goodall came up with the idea of pulling a Red Arrow over a set distance, in the quickest time. He contacted the Red Arrows team to ask if there was any possibility of borrowing a Red Arrow for the event and to his surprise they agreed."
The unique event saw individuals, teams of three, or large groups, pull a Red Arrow over 50 metres every 10 minutes in the quickest time possible.
"Children were also allowed to join in and were definitely the most enthusiastic participants," Emma revealed.
Other than the pull aspect of the day, there was also a cake stall, a SSAFA merchandise stall run by SSAFA volunteers, a raffle supported by numerous local businesses, craft stalls, various sections from around the station promoting their recent campaigns, St John's ambulance, police cars, a fire engine, an ambulance, rescue helicopter and Sodexo offering refreshments and food.
Emma continued: "We also had the Military wives choir performing - the military wives choir foundation is an 'off branch' of SSAFA - and the Red Arrows had their merchandise stall next to two static Red Arrows.
"The 'Blues' (engineers) were on hand to answer the many questions and the pilots came down later in the day to support the event, they even had a turn pulling the Red Arrow with the Blues sat on the wings to make sure it was maximum weight.
"Although we are still waiting to see how much was raised on the day, we are hoping to have raised over €2000. The event was successful financially, but also by making the military community in Cyprus aware of the SSAFA charity and how we can help.
You can find out more at https://www.ssafa.org.uk/how-we-help/