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This year’s Fleet Air Arm Charity Shoot in aid of Navy Wings on 13 September 2023 raised over £33,000 for the charity!

 

The annual event held at the prestigious Purdey at the Royal Berkshire Shooting School near Pangbourne is attended by Charity Ambassadors, guests and friends together with teams from the Fleet Air Arm and wider Fleet Air Arm community.

“As a small charity of national importance, we run many fund raising events but without question the Fleet Air Arm Charity Shoot is one of the most successful” said Jock Alexander CEO of Navy Wings. “And this year’s Charity Shoot was our most successful yet!”

The beautiful Berkshire countryside looked glorious in the September sunshine as 18 teams enjoyed a morning’s shooting over ten stands including a variety of different types of shooting challenges for all participants.

With teams including the Rascals, Reprobates and Renegades, Whirlwinds, West End Boys and Hooters, barrels of laughter echoed across the valley each time the one that got away evaded the Guns. “It was insanely good fun!” said Cdr Ian (Ginge) Houlston, Commanding Officer of the Empire Test Pilots’ School.

The midday refreshments in the field by Top Nosh were legendary and as the Guns returned for a pre-lunch glass of champagne, the Navy Wings Swordfish could be seen in the distance flying in along the tree line, arriving overhead at exactly 14.00.

“We have wanted to fly the Swordfish at this event for several years without success due to engine issues, so it was magical and memorable beyond words to see her this time,” said Navy Wings Ambassador, Lars Steffensen.

“Like many others, I was moved to tears seeing such a venerable WW2 naval aircraft flying over the Berkshire countryside with the Telegraphist Air Gunner in the back, waving to guests below. It really brought it home, just how much the funds raised on the day make such a difference to keeping these iconic aircraft flying” continued Lars.

The Navy Wings Wasp also flew into the shooting school and was on static display beside the marquee throughout the day attracting great interest among the guests.

Guest of Honour at the event, Commodore Stu Finn, Commodore Fleet Air Arm, said “The financial boost that days like today provide for Navy Wings is vital to the Charity’s continued success in keeping the aircraft in the air, not just inspiring the talented young men and women in the Fleet Air Arm today but upholding the spirit and ethos of naval flying that is so respected around the world.”

After a highly sociable lunch and auction, Commodore Finn presented prizes to the winning teams. Kate Davies won the Top Lady prize and Emil Sohrab, Chief Executive of James Taylor Group received the Top Man award. The Top Team prize was clinched by sharp shooters, Utter Shambles!

Guests at the event included Dan Jago, Chairman and Chief Executive of Purdey, Nick Jenkins, founder of Moonpig and a judge on Dragon’s Den, Bettine Evans, Master of the Worshipful Company of Coach Makers and Coach Harness Makers and Diana Britten, the first woman to have been British Aerobatic Champion and one of the world’s leading gyroscopic flying display pilots.

“It was an excellent day, great fun was had by all and the sense of reunion among friends, both old and new, was very real” said Navy Wings Ambassador Stephen Partridge-Hicks.

Sue Eagles, the Charity’s Fundraising Director said “I am delighted that the annual Fleet Air Arm Charity Shoot has continued to grow in popularity and thank you to all our wonderful sponsors and donors including Harvey Soning and James Andrew International, to HR Owen for supporting the event with a super collection of Aston Martin cars and to Dylan Williams and everyone at Purdey at the Royal Berkshire for a superb day.”

“It was an absolutely cracking event” said Captain Duncan Thomas, Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton and a Navy Wings Trustee. “I had a hugely enjoyable day meeting and spending time with some of the Navy Wings Ambassadors, their guests and the Fleet Air Arm teams. The shooting was spectacular fun, the instructors at the Royal Berks are the best in the business and the Gun Room and beautifully kept grounds is an experience not to be missed! Even more noteworthy was my rusty shotgun came back immaculate after a Purdey clean!”

Next year’s Fleet Air Arm Charity Shoot will take place on 5 June 2024