Margot’s brother, Rufus, my friend James and I travelled down to the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton in Somerset yesterday for their annual International Air Day.
This is a hugely popular ‘Fly Navy’ airshow which showcases the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, its current and future capabilities and historic accomplishments, including hours of amazing flying displays and spectacular role demonstrations.
It also features an enormous array of ground attractions, from engineering fairs to the latest defence technology exhibitions, Service displays, trade stalls and arena displays. For the thrill seekers, there are simulators, fairground rides and helicopter pleasure flights to enjoy, making this a regular ‘family day out’ calendar fixture for 40,000 visitors each year.
Essentially, we set up our stand and not wishing to impose ourselves on anyone or to be ‘bone marrow bores’, we made a point of not approaching people, but instead simply made ourselves available and waited for people to stop and enquire. And they did, steadily throughout the day and at a pace and frequency that enabled us to have full and proper conversations, without feeling rushed or as though we needed more time. It all felt very natural as we explained the need for donors, demystified the process and encouraged people to register.
We met many people, including existing or previous blood donors who weren’t aware of the need for bone marrow, a lady who had a bone marrow transplant three years ago, people from the police & the military, nurses, girl guides and basically the full spectrum of people and families.
There was a lot of love around our stand and occasionally emotions took hold; at times there were tears, particularly when people realised that I was Margot’s father. But all in all, this was a really positive and happy day and I’m delighted that we were there. It felt like we made a difference.
Thank you to Christine Clancey and in particular Commander Henry Mereweather for the idea and for making us so welcome.
Together, saving lives