Last month we travelled to Compton Abbas Airfield in Dorset to meet two pilots who have raised thousands for the Royal British Legion.
Jason Davidson and Simon Shackell flew in specially to tell us all about a remarkable challenge they took on in May.
To mark the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, they undertook a commemorative flight to recognise the technical skills, ingenuity and courage of those who conducted the legendary air operation.
And in doing so, they have already raised over £3,000 for the Royal British Legion!
Watch below as we meet Jason and Simon, who tell us about the challenge and why they chose to raise funds for the RBL.
We were delighted to gift Jason and Simon a 2023 Royal British Legion Poppy® Silver Proof £5 each as well as the FINAL 2023 Poppy® Silver Masterpiece Coin to be struck to honour their achievements and thank them for their fundraising efforts…
Watch the interview and gifting in full below or read on to find out more about Jason and Simon’s story…
Jason and Simon’s Story
Both Simon and Jason have a close connection to the military – Jason served in the Parachute Regiment for over 22 years and his twin brother was also in the RAF. Simon’s father was a navigator in the RAF during National Service.
They took on the challenge as they were inspired by the bravery and skill that the 617 Squadron showed. Simon said that the idea was to “champion the engineering aspect” as well as the airmanship. “It really struck home how difficult that would have been, and how dangerous. The airmanship was what blew me away”, Jason said.
On 16th May 2023, the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid, Jason and Simon began their challenge – departing from the RAF St Athan airfield site on a mission to pass over 8 locations:
- Chesil Beach, Dorset – testing location for the “bouncing bomb”
- Reculver Bay, Kent – testing location for the “bouncing bomb”
- East Kirkby Aviation Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire – a unique living museum to the Dambusters and home of ‘Just Jane’.
- Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire – home of the Dambusters Memorial
- RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire – the wartime base of the 617 Squadron and location where the Raid was launched
- Derwent Dam, Sheffield – a location closely resembling the Möhne Dam where the Dambusters practiced for the Raid.
- Nant-y-Gro Dam, Rhayader – the site where Barnes Wallis successfully demonstrated the concept of the depth charge mine.
- Penarth, Glamorgan – the site of Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s memorial and his wartime home.
Jason and Simon conducted each flight using only maps, stopwatches and compasses to navigate as the Dambusters did.
The 2023 Official RBL Poppy® Coin Range
For nearly 20 years, The Westminster Collection has released coins in support of the Royal British Legion – and collectors have raised over £1.25 million for the RBL.
The 2023 coin range is available to order now but with stock selling fast, you’ll need to act today to secure your tribute…
Remembrance Sunday is an important time for the nation to honour the valour, sacrifice, and enduring spirit of all those who have served. Now as tribute, a remarkable Masterpiece has been released…
Introducing the Royal British Legion’s 2023 Masterpiece Silver 5oz Coin
Click the black dots on the image above to learn about each of the key features of this year’s masterpiece – and then continue reading below to get the full story!
Let’s journey through the truly unique features of this brand new ‘Masterpiece’.
At the heart of this stunning coin lies a tangible connection to one of the most iconic events of World War II – the Dambusters Raid. This year marked the 80th anniversary of the raid.
Let me explain. At the centre of the coin, you can see there is a Lancaster aircraft. This feature has been crafted with the metal from the starboard outer engine housing of Avro Lancaster PA474 – the same type of aircraft that participated in the historic mission!
This bridges the gap between past and present, allowing us to hold a piece of history in our hands.
The artwork on the coin showcases a powerful scene – a Lancaster dropping the two petal Poppy® over The Mall – this touching image is inspired by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s tradition of dropping poppies to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. The scene pays tribute to the sacrifices of those that have fallen.
The original piece of Lancaster included in the Masterpiece is from the exact same plane that has participated in this symbolic act of Remembrance by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Struck from pure Silver the ‘Masterpiece’ design is completed with the Lancaster being flanked by a Spitfire and a Hurricane – two legendary aircraft that played pivotal roles in defending the skies during WWII – representing the courage of the pilots who used them to fight for our freedom.
Look closely, and you’ll discover another layer of significance in the coin’s design. In the background, Buckingham Palace is also featured on the map. This stands as a poignant reminder of Royalty’s role in difficult times for the nation – as well as a nod to the significant year the Royal family has had.
Click the video below to see the unboxing of the Masterpiece.
A donation to the Royal British Legion
The 2023 Masterpiece Silver Coin holds an opportunity for anyone passionate about helping veterans, to contribute to a noble cause. With each purchase – 10% of the sale will be donated to the Royal British Legion. This gesture not only enriches the value of the coin but also helps to ensure that the legacy of those who have served lives on through meaningful initiatives.
ONLY 250 AVAILABLE – secure yours while you can!
Each coin in this limited-edition release is accompanied by an individually numbered certificate – so you know which number you have secured out of the tiny worldwide edition limit of 250.
But that’s not all – the coin also comes with an informational booklet that delves into the historical significance of each design element.
From the inclusion of an actual Lancaster plane fragment to the poignant artwork of aircraft, two petal Poppy, and royalty, every detail has been meticulously crafted to honour the sacrifices made by those who came before us.
By securing this coin, you not only possess a piece of history but also contribute to the Royal British Legion’s vital work in supporting today’s Armed Forces community.
As of this year, The Westminster Collection has raised a remarkable £1.25 million for the Royal British Legion through the creation of Remembrance and Poppy-themed coins – click here to read more about where your donations go >>
We have plenty more fantastic coins and commemoratives issued in support of the Royal British Legion just like today’s new release so…
10% from the sale of this product will be paid to The Royal British Legion Trading Limited, which gives its taxable profits to The Royal British Legion (charity no. 219279) or Poppyscotland (Scottish charity SC014096).
Since 2004 The Westminster Collection has been proud partners with the Royal British Legion, and throughout that time collectors like you have raised a remarkable £1.25 MILLION for the organisation!
This is an incredible amount that could enable the RBL’s dedicated frontline advisors to help over 7,590 people in the Armed Forces community and their families get access to the help that they need.
To mark this milestone, earlier this year we had the pleasure of presenting the Royal British Legion with a cheque from collectors for the staggering amount.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Robert Benham, Regional Lead – Admiral Nursing – Hampshire, who told us all about the important work of the RBL Admiral Nurse Service.
And in today’s blog, we explain more about the specialist Admiral Nurse Service and share the story of Dorothy and Angus Weir…
What is the Admiral Nurses Service?
The Royal British Legion works in partnership with Dementia UK to provide Admiral Nurses – a specialist service helping the Armed Forces community and their families living with dementia.
RBL’s Admiral Nurses Service has been supporting families living with dementia since 2012, giving personalised and holistic support to the whole family. RBL Admiral Nurses give one-to-one support, expert guidance, and practical solutions to help the family to live well with their diagnosis and face the future with more confidence.
RBL nurses work in the community, supporting families through home visits and through telephone and video contact. Each family we support is under the care of a dedicated Admiral Nurse, who will support them throughout their time with the service.
Each nurse provides a range of support, advice, advocacy, and education to families, including:
- Identifying potential needs amongst carers (such as depression and anxiety) that are often pushed into the background and arrange for or provide appropriate support.
- Working with carers to build their confidence in their caring role and improve their mental wellbeing (for example reducing their feelings of loneliness and isolation… We support them to re-establish their relationship as a spouse, as well as supporting their role as a carer.
- Listening to families’ concerns, helping to identify practical solutions to reduce the fear and stress faced by carers.
- Explaining the reasoning behind advice given to the family by other professionals, helping to make complex information easily understandable during times of great difficulty.
- Advocating for families, liaising with other bodies (such as GPs and community mental health teams) to make sure all the necessary support is in place.
- Helping families prepare for end-of-life care or a move into a care home, and supporting them to transition and adjust to their new circumstances.
Each RBL Admiral Nurse supports approximately 45 families at any one time.
Dorothy and Angus Weir
Dorothy lives in Swansea with her husband of 49 years, Angus. Dorothy’s family is steeped in military history, going back five generations. She grew up with a father who served in the Second World War, and a grandfather who served too.
Angus served in the Army with the 15th 19th The Kings Road Hussars for around 10 years, with postings in Germany, France, Norway and Libya.
Sadly, Angus has several health problems including bipolar disorder, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Dorothy is his sole carer.
“Caring for Angus impacts my life massively,” says Dorothy. “His long-term memory is brilliant – he can talk about his time in the Army until the cows come home! But, he can’t tell you what happened yesterday.”
Last year, Dorothy was put in touch with the RBL’s Admiral Nurse service and since then they have provided her with practical advice, and emotional and psychological support.
Dorothy says: “When you become a carer for someone, that’s what identifies you. Even my children would describe me as ‘Dad’s carer’, so you lose some of who you are. The mental health team treated me as a carer, not as a wife, but Helen my Admiral Nurse focuses on me as me, as my own person.”
“She [Helen] talks to me about dementia, how it works, and has given me a lot of information I didn’t know.
“That helps me cope because I can understand what Angus is doing.
“We don’t just talk about Angus, we talk about crafting and our similar interests, which I don’t normally get to talk to about with anybody.
“I also talk to her about feeling lonely,” Dorothy adds. “I can have all the children here and still feel a bit lonely, and she understands that.
The funds raised by The Westminster Collection through sales of the Poppy Coins helps the Royal British Legion continue to provide its life-changing services like the Admiral Nurses.
Introducing the Official 2023 RBL Coin Range
For nearly 20 years, we’ve been proud to support the Royal British Legion, issuing coins and commemoratives in partnership of the organisation.
And we have just revealed this year’s, fully approved, one-year-only design…
By ordering today, you’ll be directly supporting the RBL, allowing the charity to continue its incredible work providing financial, social and life-long support for the Armed Forces community.