RAF pilots will give 291 toy giraffes a ride to raise money for Great Ormond Street

By Jessica Durston - 3 March 2023

  • Flight Lieutenants Mark and Phoebe

    Flight Lieutenants Mark and Phoebe

RAF flight lieutenants will be teaming up with the Cotswold Wildlife Park to help share support for a special campaign entitled 'Flight of the Giraffes.'

Credit for images - Flight of the Giraffes

Flight Lieutenant and event organiser Mark Scott, along with Flight Lieutenant Phoebe Valentine-Wood will fly 291 cuddly toy giraffes to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

The cuddly toys will go for a ride in a RAF Voyager KC MK2 from RAF Brize Norton on 19 April, in aid of 'Flight Of The Giraffes' (on behalf of 'Giraffes on Tour') - a campaign raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

Explaining more about the fundraiser, Flt Lt Mark Scott said: "The charity ‘Giraffes on Tour’ was set up in memory of a 9-year-old girl Louise Conway who was a patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2013. During her stay she was never without her cuddly giraffe Geoffrey. After she passed away, friends and family of her father Ian Conway started flying cuddly giraffes in RAF aeroplanes and posting the photos and videos online.

"Last year the charity was nominated for a Pride of Britain fundraising award, and I spotted the news item which really struck a chord; by coincidence I had been flying my daughter’s own cuddly giraffes with me on Voyager! I got in touch with Ian Conway at 'Giraffes on Tour' with a crazy idea; suppose we could find 291 cuddly giraffes we’d be able to fill every passenger seat of a Voyager during one of our routine Air-to-Air Refuelling missions!

"This is where the idea of 'Flight of the Giraffes' was born, and since then we have been trying to raise as much awareness of the charity and Louise’s story as possible… and find passengers for the flight on 19 April!".

Mark added: "We’ve come to Cotswold Wildlife Park because they are a neighbour of RAF Brize Norton with real-life Giraffes, and they are kindly donating cuddly giraffe passengers to join us! We’ve had a brilliant day feeding their Giraffes at the Park, who seemed very curious to know what we are up to and hear about Geoffrey’s next adventure!"

Pupils attending schools around RAF Brize Norton can email [email protected] and Mark will arrange to come and pick up the toy passengers from their schools the day before the flight.

People further away than Brize Norton can visit www.giraffesontour.co.uk and buy a seat for their giraffe in the online shop. Their purchase will get them a boarding card and all the necessary postage and packing materials to send their giraffes to the charity in time for the flight.

Mark added that the giraffes will be safely posted back afterwards.

He also explained: "For anyone who doesn’t have a giraffe but is inspired by this event and story, the charity would be grateful to receive any donations via their website or Louise’s JustGiving page."

More information about Flight of the Giraffes can be found below:

Louise's story: https://www.giraffesontour.co.uk/louises-story

Flt. Lts Mark Scott's Voyager fundraiser: https://www.giraffesontour.co.uk/flightofthegiraffes

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