Leeds boy to walk with dad from Second World War crash site in Belgium to Dunkirk evacuation point

A Leeds father and son duo will be walking 25km from a Second World War crash site in Belgium to the pilot’s evacuation point at Dunkirk.

By Alex Grant
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 4:45 am

Plane-mad Jacob Newson, eight, and his dad Andy will undertake the challenge to raise money in support of the RAF Benevolent Fund and St Gemma’s Hospice.

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The father and son duo have undertaken numerous fundraisers for the Fund, including climbing Pen-y-Ghent in Yorkshire in 2019, raising £6,500.

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Plane-mad Jacob Newson and his dad Andy will undertake the challenge to raise money in support of the RAF Benevolent Fund and St Gemma’s Hospice.

They were inspired to fundraise after the Red Arrows surprised Jacob at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2019.

Andy posted a tweet asking any pilots and officers in uniform to return Jacob’s salute, and the tweet quickly went viral coming to the attention of the RAF’s aerobatic display team who pulled off the ultimate surprise.

Andy said: “I've been going to France every year since 2003 for the anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations so it was a great shame not to be there on the 80th anniversary. That said, I'm a frontline clinician with the ambulance service, so in the grand scheme of things there were far more important things going on at the time.

"“It’s important that Jacob understands the anniversary and who Al Deere was, so since lockdown restrictions have eased we’ve been to the Runnymede Memorial where Jacob laid a poppy cross in his flying suit, and we had a tour of the White Waltham Airfield where Al Deere learnt to fly a Tiger Moth.

"We visited the former site of RAF Hornchurch where Al Deere was based when he flew the sortie over Dunkirk that he was shot down on. We also met the historical society at Hornchurch who kindly showed Jacob artifacts from the old station including a piece from one of Al Deere's Spitfire's.”

Andy previously served with the Army in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. Andy’s father – Jacob’s grandfather – was an officer in the Merchant Navy while Andy’s grandfather – Jacob’s great grandfather – fought in the First World War with the Army.

Since his 2019 fundraiser, Jacob has been invited to various RAF stations and military museums across the country and has met Spitfire ace Allan Scott DFM and the last Dambuster Johnny Johnson.

In March of this year, Jacob visited RAF Honington where he tackled an assault course in preparation of his fundraiser.

“Jacob has done a fantastic job fundraising for us in the last few years, so we’re thrilled that he and Andy have planned such a unique challenge this time round." said, Lisa Hunt, Regional Fundraiser at the RAF Benevolent Fund.

“We are committed to supporting the whole of the RAF Family whenever they may need us, and Jacob and Andy’s efforts will help us continue to do so for years to come.”