Canterbury's RAF Spitfires Rugby 7s Commemorate Dambusters' 70th Anniversary

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The RAF Spitfires Rugby 7s team have visited the iconic Derwent Valley Reservoirs and Dam to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the famous Dambusters story.

The RAF Spitfires Rugby 7s team have visited the iconic Derwent Valley Reservoirs and Dam to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the famous Dambusters story.

The rugby 7s team, who take their name from the iconic Royal Air Force Spitfire aircraft used in World War II, made a special stop at the Derwent Valley reservoirs and dam as part of a gruelling 500mile charity cycle. The team rode from Glasgow to Twickenham, to coincide with the final two legs of the IRB World Sevens Series, and planned the visit to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters’ Operation Chastise on Thursday, 16th May.

Famous for being used by pilots of 617 Squadron to practise for Operation Chastise, more commonly known as the Dambusters Raids on dams in Germany during World War II, Derwent provided a fitting stop for the Spitfires team, all of whom are serving RAF airmen.

In the immediate aftermath of the Dambusters raids in Germany, photo-reconnaissance Spitfires of RAF Benson flew in to take pictures of the hits on the dams, and the team’s new 2013 camouflage rugby shirt, designed by leading rugby brand Canterbury, is a fitting tribute.

The shirt, which the Spitfires team proudly sported on their visit to Derwent, takes its design directly from the classic spitfire markings. The sleeves possess the sky blue underside of the wing as well as the distinctive black and white stripes, while the vintage yellow is taken from the iconic propeller blade tips.

The team visited the Dambusters Museum, situated in one of the famous twin towers of the Derwent Dam where they were able to see the Barnes Wallis ‘Bouncing Bomb’ used in the Dambusters raids as well as an extensive collection of memorabilia. The museum was opened especially for their arrival, and Vic Hallam, the owner of the Museum’s collection, will display imagery of the Spitfires’ visit along with the Canterbury RAF Spitfires Rugby 7s' Camouflage shirt on the museums visitor’s wall.

Spitfires Team Manager, Flight Lieutenant Nick Monahan, a Puma pilot currently based at RAF Benson, commented, “Stopping off at the Derwent Dam as part of our 500 mile charity cycle and remembering the brave airmen who took to the skies for Operation Chastise was a very nostalgic moment for the whole Spitfires squad. We are very honoured to have our commemorative Canterbury shirt displayed in the Dambusters Museum.”

On Thursday, 16th May, the official anniversary date of Operation Chastise, there will be a fly-past at the Derwent Valley reservoirs of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) which includes the Lancaster Bomber and a Spitfire.

The aim of the Spitfires’ charity bike ride is to raise £10,000 for their charity partners, Khelo Rugby and the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Khelo Rugby is a tag rugby project for disadvantaged children in India and the Spitfires have been involved in coaching children in the slums of Calcutta for over 18 months. Khelo is expanding within India and other countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Vietnam, which is helping grass roots rugby in developing rugby nations. The founder of Khelo rugby and Afghanistan 7s' coach, Zaffar Khan, joined the RAF Spitfires on the ride.

The RAF Benevolent Fund is also a charity close to RAF’s heart, which raises money to help RAF personnel and their families, past, present and future, in times of need. Their recent projects include funding for youth workers and play parks on numerous RAF stations across the UK through the Airplay scheme.

All the route data, daily blogs and photos of the charity cycle can be found at http://www.facebook.com/rafrugby7s. The fundraising page is http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/rafrugby7s. Donations can also be made by texting RAFS77 £5 (between £1 and £10) to 70070.

The new RAF Spitfires Rugby 7s camouflage shirt is available to buy from http://www.canterbury.com/ and £5 from each sale will go to the charities supported by the RAF.

About Canterbury

Canterbury has more than 100 years of history in rugby and has previously provided playing shirts to the New Zealand All Blacks, Australia, and Ireland. It is currently team kit supplier to England Rugby and South Africa as well as Leinster and Leicester Tigers. Canterbury has been a keen supporter of grassroots and development level rugby for many years and currently supplies playing apparel to hundreds of school and club sides through the UK. The company’s global HQ is based in Stockport, England.

For more information please contact:
James Gwinnett @ Pitch
E: james(dot)gwinnett(at)pitch(dot)co(dot)uk
T: 0-207-494-1616
M: 0-758-423-6616

(L-R) Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Blythe Crawford, Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Tim Barlow, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Nathan Jones, Senior Aircraftman (SAC ) James Challenger, Flying Officer (Fg Off) Will Greenwood, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Nick Monahan, Senior Aircraftman (SAC) Callum Davies

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Jadon Stewart
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0845 322 4731
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