Cuddly giraffes take to the skies to raise thousands for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Toy Giraffe by RAF plane window
Toy giraffes filled the RAF aircraft to raise money for the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Credit: Royal Air Force Cadets

Hundreds of cuddly toys were flown by the Royal Air Force as part of a fundraising drive to support the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The ‘Flight of the Giraffes’ began in Oxfordshire at RAF Brize Norton as they joined a routine refuelling run, before returning back to base.

The almost 300 cuddly giraffes buckled up their seatbelts last week (Wednesday 19 April) for a short trip to make money for 'Giraffes On Tour' which has so far raised thousands of pounds.

The project was started by Ian Conway, who lost his daughter Louise back in 2013 after a battle with Leukaemia.

The cuddly toys were safety transported on a refuelling trip. Credit: Royal Air Force Cadets

Each passenger seat was filled on the Voyager aircraft by 291 furry friends, that were funded by local schools, RAF bases, community groups, radio stations, and individuals.

The trip itself raised four thousand pounds - joining the almost £31,000 that has been raised since 2020.

Children owning the giraffes that took part in the training exercise will have their toys returned to them along with a special certificate.

Almost 300 toy giraffes took part in the flight for charity. Credit: Royal Air Force Cadets

Ian Conway, Director of Giraffes On Tour said: “Giraffes On Tour started a few years ago.

"My daughter Louise had a toy giraffe called ‘Geoffrey’ while she was in hospital at Great Ormand Street and that’s how the idea started.

"Since we started, we’ve had giraffes flying all over the world and it’s been fantastic.

"It’s something that brings light, and joy and it means a lot to us that so much money has been raised with so many people who’ve been involved.

"Louise was about fun and seeing all these giraffes flying across the world would have brought her huge joy.”

The giraffes raised thousands of pounds for the children's hospital. Credit: Royal Air Force Cadets

Organising the flight and getting the giraffes airborne was Voyager pilot and Flight Lieutenant Mark Scott. He said: “The idea came to me when I saw Giraffes on Tour in the news.

"My daughter also has a toy giraffe who happens to have come with me on a few trips around the world, so I got in touch with Ian from Giraffes on Tour and pitched him the idea to fill an RAF Voyager, all 291 seats with sponsored giraffes to raise money for the charity.

"Today we took the giraffes on an air-to-air refuelling sortie, which we regularly fly in support of the RAF’s fast jet force.

"We had Typhoons and F-35s joining us in formation as receiver aircraft, all observed by the giraffes.

"For anyone tracking the flight they will have seen that we also drew a heart in the sky around the area where we were operating as a symbol of what we were doing.

"The whole flight went as planned and I’ve been thrilled to bits with how it went.”

'Giraffes On Tour' took off in 2020, since then the charity has raised over £31,000 for the Great Ormond Street Hospital whilst Geoffrey has now been in 40 different aircraft.

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