Eight-year-old Leeds boy sets cyclists off for fundraising Dambusters Ride

An eight-year-old boy from Leeds was responsible for setting cyclists off at the 2022 Dambusters Ride.
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The event raises money for the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund, and the name honours the famous Dambusters.

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In 1943, the Dambusters were assigned to bomb three dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley in a risky operation also known as Operation Chastise.

The event raises money for the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund. Credit: Michael PowellThe event raises money for the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund. Credit: Michael Powell
The event raises money for the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund. Credit: Michael Powell
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Jacob Newson is just eight years old but has developed a passion for the Dambusters and alongside his dad Andrew, has become a prolific fundraiser for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which provides financial, emotional, and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families.

Andrew said: “It was a complete privilege for Jacob to have been invited to start the Dambusters Ride. When I asked Jacob if he’d like to do it, he didn’t even hesitate as he loves everything about the Dambusters from the Lancaster Bomber to 617 Squadron and their new Lightning aircraft.

"His passion started when the RAF Benevolent Fund arranged for Jacob to meet the last surviving Dambuster, Johnny Johnson, when he was five years old in 2019.”

Jacob added: “I was really happy and excited to start the race.”

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Fundraising challenges they have taken on include climbs of Yorkshire peak Pen-y-Ghent and Scottish mountain Ben Nevis.

They also walked 30 miles in two days from RAF Manston in Ramsgate to the Battle of Britain Memorial in Folkestone.

The pair have already set their sights on their next challenge and aim to complete a 25km Dunkirk hike to raise money for both the RAF Benevolent Fund and St Gemma's Hospice.

A virtual Dambusters Ride took place across 7 and 8 May before the 'Heritage Ride' was held in Lincolnshire on 14 May and nearly 300 riders were involved.

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Also in news: Leeds businessman fundraising for more aid visits to Ukraine after completing two 4,000-mile round tripsLisa Hunt, regional fundraiser at the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: “This year’s Dambusters Ride was an enormous success with close to 300 riders taking part across the 60 and 100 mile routes, to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

"The money raised will help provide financial, emotional, and practical assistance to members of the RAF Family who require support.”