Updated: Apr 17, 2022
Helen Forde - former RAF servicewoman
When writing A Summer Sanctuary, I needed lots of information about military officers so I could write the character of Fraser as convincingly as possible. Initially Fraser was written as an Army officer but after speaking to my good friend, Helen Forde, she persuaded me to make him an RAF pilot. Helen was in the RAF for 12 years so it made sense. It fitted Fraser's character perfectly and it also meant Helen could answer all my questions!
I started a file called 'questions for Helen' that she patiently answered for me in great detail! I then had a bursting file called 'answers from Helen'. I used so many of the details from those answers in A Summer Sanctuary.
After working with Helen (not in the RAF! In a totally different job), I know she has lots of stories to tell from those days! Here are just a few of her insights!
Why did you choose a career in the RAF?
I chose the RAF after seeing a poster advertising military careers when I was at catering college. I originally applied to the Navy but no vacancies at the time.
What was your role and what did it involve?
I was a stewardess looking after officers and VIP's.
Where did you serve and what was the most interesting place?
I served at Wittering ( twice), 2 bases in Germany and 4 months in the Falkland Islands.
Tell us your favourite memory from your time in service.
My favourite memory, difficult one but possibly playing in the band on parade for a visit from Princess Diana in the late '80s.
Without breaking any official secrets acts, can you tell us a funny story?
A funny story ( lots of them) but I do remember a Christmas party where I got carried away with the music and ended up dancing on the table to New York, New York in front of the Station Commander who was the BIG BOSS, luckily he thought it was funny but it so easily could have ended in disaster!!
Anything else you would like to say?
I had 12 years in the RAF and it was a blast, I made friends for life, I'm proud to have served and now belong to 2 ex RAF Associations and plan to March at the Cenotaph in London 1 day.
Thank you Helen for answering all my questions!!! You're a star!
Helen and me having a normal day at the playpark!
You can read about Fraser the former RAF pilot in A Summer Sanctuary.