David’s 75 miles for 75 years
Cyclist completes epic aviation route in aid of humanitarian airline …
David Tester, a retired RAF Intelligence Officer from Buckinghamshire, completed a 75-mile cycle route last month in aid of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) – the world’s largest humanitarian airline, which has been operating for 75 years. To date, David has raised more than £1,000 for the charity.
David, who describes himself as a ‘fairly experienced cyclist’, biked across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire from his home on the top of the Chiltern Hills, passing two airfields, RAF Halton and the former RAF Bicester, in keeping with his aviation-themed fundraiser. The former pilot and aviation enthusiast paused here to admire iconic planes including Spitfire and Tornado aircraft.
This is the longest distance David has cycled since turning 70 in March 2021, and he completed the route in close to eight hours requiring a speed of roughly 12mph, stopping for a couple of refreshment breaks and to repair a puncture.
Participating in MAF’s 7&5 Challenge – a fundraising campaign to mark the charity’s 75th anniversary last year, which has been relaunched with the lifting of covid restrictions – David decided to set a £750 fundraising target, which he has exceeded.
David has followed the work of MAF for more than 50 years, having developed a keen interest in aviation from a young age. He became particularly fond of the charity while taking his degree at Oxford University and has been a MAF volunteer for 15 years.
In 2007, David visited MAF’s work in Uganda, an experience he describes as ‘hugely impressive’. He says, ‘I remember standing on a sun-baked airstrip in the middle of nowhere with a group of passengers who were working for a medical charity. Soon after we landed, suddenly a whole crowd of children surrounded us to see the plane. That was so moving because it showed me how the MAF aircraft is a symbol of hope for people living in very hard-to-reach places. Without a MAF plane, some communities don’t have access to basic necessities. Using aviation and technology, MAF is truly making a difference in people’s lives. It really is such a good-news story.’
With a fleet of 123 light aircraft, MAF delivers humanitarian personnel and medical cargo, and carries out disaster relief operations in remote or inaccessible communities across more than 25 developing countries. The charity was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War by a handful of RAF veterans, and now flies to more remote destinations than any other airline.
Becoming a member of Cycling UK ten years ago, David has cycled regularly with a local group ever since, finding the sport particularly valuable during lockdown. He explains: ‘Having played rugby and been a keen runner in my RAF days, cycling has been the kindest way to exercise during retirement. I particularly loved cycling during lockdown as the roads were so quiet and the countryside so peaceful. It really kept me going. But when things started opening up, I knew it was time to get off my backside and do something to make a difference! That’s why I’m doing a 7&5 fundraiser for MAF. If I can do it, anyone can!’
David, who has lived and worked across the UK and Europe during his RAF career, retired to Naphill, Bucks, in 2006 shortly after his final RAF tour in Brussels. Along with his volunteering work with MAF, David is a Licensed Lay Minister at St Michael and All Angells church in Hughenden Parish.
Despite the impressive distance covered on his bike ride, David admits that his fundraising target has been the most daunting part of the challenge. Having previously completed the London Marathon in 1990 and 1992, and an impressive two-week, 700-mile cycle ride in 2010 in aid of the Church Mission Society – the organisation his son works with in Peru – he found the fundraising more difficult than the physical endurance.
Says David: ‘Come hell or high water, I know I will complete the distance – that’s just my personality. But asking people for money is the hardest bit. I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated so far, and I hope my efforts will really help to change lives in some of the remotest corners of the world where MAF flies.’
If you would like to support David’s fundraising, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-tester10 to make a donation
Millions of people cannot access basic medical care, clean water, food or education, simply because it is too dangerous or time-consuming to reach them. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) provides flights for more than 1,500 aid, development and mission organisations to enable the world’s remotest people to access the essentials they need to survive. Every four minutes, an MAF plane takes off or lands in 26 developing countries, flying help, hope and healing to some of the remotest places on Earth.
Find out more about MAF: www.maf-uk.org
Could you follow in David’s footsteps?
Get in touch with MAF to find out how you could volunteer and/or use your flying skills to make a real difference to the lives of people in developing countries:
Tel: 01303 852819