Friday 18th March was a very special day for a young man from Glasgow who received the surprise of a lifetime thanks to the Muscle Help Foundation charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund, and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.
Pictured below, twenty-year-old Amandeep has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most severe type of muscular dystrophy. As a lifelong lover of the RAF and aviation, Amandeep dreamed of becoming a pilot and was devastated that DMD thwarted his ambitions.
To help fulfil his wish, Dr Sheonad Laidlaw, Specialist Palliative SAS Doctor for the Transition & Young Adults Service at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, nominated Amandeep for a Muscle Dream. The charity’s CEO Michael McGrath, a DL in Hertfordshire, reached out to Lord Hugh Trenchard to assist, a fellow DL in the county and whose grandfather was the founder of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.
The RAF Benevolent Fund nominated supporter Mike Ling, the Red Arrow’s longest standing pilot and current Blades pilot.
Amandeep got to virtually experience the life of a pilot by meeting Mike (pictured above) over Zoom and hearing about his 10-year career with the Reds. During the session, Amandeep was also presented with a gift box including his own set of wings, generously donated by Gavin Davey, Area Director for Scotland at the RAF Benevolent Fund and former RAF helicopter pilot.
|Amandeep said: “What an amazing experience. It was a privilege to meet everyone and receive the wings. Thank you to everyone for organising this surprise.”|
Mike Ling is no stranger to charity, having been supported by the RAF Benevolent Fund following a mid-air collision with another Red Arrow jet in 2010. He spent weeks in hospital, with injuries including badly damaged legs, arms, substantial burns, a dislocated shoulder, lacerations on his face and damaged lungs. The Fund provided a powered wheelchair which helped Mike regain some independence and allowed him to take care of himself again.
|Mike Ling said: “I was truly delighted to meet Amendeep virtually and to talk to him about flying and the Red Arrows. Despite the restrictions placed on him by DMD, Amendeep is a very cheerful young man with a positive mindset, and it was a real pleasure to speak to him as a huge fan of aviation. I’m grateful to the Muscle Help Foundation charity and the RAF Benevolent Fund for inviting me to be a part of Amandeep’s Muscle Dream experience.”|
DMD is a muscle-wasting condition and usually affects only boys. At any one time, there are approximately 2,500 boys and young men known to be living with the condition in the UK. DMD causes progressive muscle weakness and means that those affected will lose their ability to walk and use a wheelchair to move around. DMD also causes significant heart and breathing problems and regular medical appointments are essential to ensure early changes are promptly treated.
|Dr Sheonad Laidlaw added: “The Young Adult Service at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice (Glasgow) has supported Amandeep for a number of years, but since the beginning of the pandemic Amandeep has shielded and this support has been needed more than ever. |
Sometimes this support is simply listening and talking as he was socially isolated; I learned more about his dreams and aspirations, and this included his childhood dream to be a RAF pilot.
With his 21st birthday approaching, I wanted to nominate Amandeep for a Muscle Dream as a celebration of all that he achieves daily and to remind him that there is a vast world outside his room waiting for him to explore.”
The Muscle Help Foundation charity’s goal is to deliver 657 Muscle Dreams, one life-changing experience for every muscle in the human body. Amandeep’s virtual Muscle Dream was the 425th intervention, leaving a further 232 to deliver.
|Michael McGrath, founder and CEO of the Muscle Help Foundation charity said: “When Amandeep’s Muscle Dream nomination arrived in the charity’s inbox just after Christmas last year, I was struck by two things – firstly, how the cruelty of his debilitating, life-limiting condition has robbed him of his dream of being an RAF pilot, and secondly, his passion and love of flying. Nominated by specialist palliative care GP Dr Sheonad Laidlaw, it became clear in our communications that to ‘earn his wings’ was a life goal. The rest as they say is history.|
Huge thanks to the RAF Benevolent Fund, to Mike Link and Gavin Davey for giving their time to support what was a wonderful virtual exchange – Amandeep’s precious smile said it all! The RAF motto ‘Per Ardua Ad Astra’ translated meaning “through adversity to the stars” certainly rings true.
I’d also like to express the charity’s enormous gratefulness to EasyJet pilot and artist Darius Rowland who joined the Zoom call, generously gifting a stunning canvas painting of a spitfire flying over Beachy Head. Thanks also to David Strudley CBE FRSA, a long-time friend of the charity, who reached out to Flt Lt Ben Davey of II(AC) Typhoon Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth and who provided some amazing memorabilia including a poster of a magnificent typhoon FGR4 jet signed by all members of the II(AC) squadron. The generosity of spirit from so many was overwhelming – as we often say, that’s the #powerof657!”
Amandeep’s 425th virtual Muscle Dream was captured by photographer Guy Hinks. Over 100 beautiful photos will give viewers some additional insight into how the story unfolded – click here to view Amandeep’s dedicated online photo album on the charity’s standalone Flickr channel. Happy viewing!
RAF Benevolent Fund: The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity. We exist to support current and former members of the RAF, their partners and dependants, whenever they need us. In 2020, we spent £26M supporting 63,700 members of the RAF Family. For more information visit: www.rafbf.org and Twitter.
The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice aims to address issues and challenges on behalf of and alongside young adults living with life limiting conditions through four specific services, our Transition Clinic, Short Break Stays, our Living Well Service and our Art Service.
The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice moved to its new home in Bellahouston Park at the end of 2018. The purpose-built state-of-the-art building has revolutionised the setting in which highly trained staff are able to care for patients. Our Young Adult Service is ground-breaking, and the hospice is leading the way in young adult transitional care not only for Glasgow but for the rest of Scotland.
Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) is a small charity delivering highly personalised, transformational interventions in the UK called Muscle Dreams for children and young adults (8-28yrs) with the muscle wasting condition, Muscular Dystrophy (MD). Uplifting, joyful and often cathartic in nature, MHF’s academically validated approach is rooted in the idea that well executed, shared experiences can be powerfully transformative in nature.
For more information, please contact:
PR Executive, RAF Benevolent Fund
T: 07825 172447