RAF hits a high note at Brize Norton

26 November 2023

Sarah Duviau, a volunteer for SSAFA, renovated a music room for RAF Brize Norton’s serving personnel.

The facility was opened on Monday by the head of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton and CEO of SSAFA, Sir Andrew Gregory.

On opening the room, ACM Sir Richard Knighton said: "It is a great pleasure to be here. Thank you to Sarah, and to SSAFA, and everyone who has made this happen. It is the perfect space and opportunity for people to come together and connect."

Sarah is a SSAFA Community Connection Champion, whose objective is to alleviate loneliness and isolation in RAF, Army, and Royal Navy bases in the UK and overseas.

The music room houses equipment and instruments that can be borrowed, will be the venue for music therapy sessions, and is also now home to regular band nights.

Sarah, who lives locally, said: “It’s taken me six weeks, working day and night, to get the room looking like it is now, let alone all the fundraising we have done for it! I know that it’s worth it though, just look at how many people are here already.”

Sarah decorated the room, restored the bar area and created the musical equipment store. She also helped raise all the funds necessary.

At the same time as the music room was being opened, another fundraising event for SSAFA was in full swing. The Brize 24 hour Dart-a-thon raised over £200 for the charity in its first two hours alone.

Sir Andrew Gregory said:  "When a community comes together it can make such a difference. The Station raised £8,000 from their last darts event and continue, as we speak, to fundraise to make service people’s lives better. I take my hat off to them.”

In the evening there was a celebratory band night. One of the Station bands, the AK 47’s, played into the night, ensuring that there was a fun, inclusive space for lone service personnel to go to make friends and enjoy themselves.

One young aviator said: “Sometimes you get depressed just sitting in your room on your own. I’m miles from my friends and family so can’t drive home every weekend. This is such a great idea, and I feel like I can just come down here on band night and chat to people. It really makes a difference. Maybe I could learn to play an instrument!”

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