24 hours…starring the RAF Wyton Netball Team

Eager to top last year’s 24-hour Gymathon, where they ran, cycled, and rowed their way to a mammoth charity donation, this year the Station Netball Team decided to take on a gruelling 24-hour Netball Challenge!
The Netball Team’s SAC Emily Mason-Jones told Eagleye how this year’s marathon effort came about, and how the whole Station got behind the girls and supported their cause:
“The idea for our 24-hour netball challenge was conceived by the Station team’s OIC, Sgt Gemma Morton, who must have forgotten how horrendous last year’s 24-hour charity event was. Nevertheless, the team eagerly took on this demanding challenge, and we soon got the ‘netballs’ rolling.
Although perceived as being a female only sport, we were keen to challenge popular opinion, encouraging everyone on station to get involved. We thought this would be a great chance to bring together personnel from across the Station in the process, and we weren’t disappointed. With a number of sections enthusiastic to take us on, we organised the 24-hour match day into hourly slots, kicking off our series of matches at 10am on Wednesday, 6th July.
Every game played meant a lot to us, as it showed people were willing to give up their time and get involved. All our games were thoroughly enjoyable, if not tiring, and a special mention has to go to the moral boosting ‘Nights Watch’ team who marched into the gym at 2am, sporting some very fashionable ‘black bin bag’ capes, while performing the EUFA Euro 2016 ‘Iceland Clap’ as they entered the netball court – Memorable!
In the hours when we didn’t have an opposition, we competed against each other. And, while you might think this was tough, especially towards the end, far from it. With a great playlist, and an empty gym, it obviously meant only one thing… music on full blast to keep us awake! We’d like to thank all the teams who turned out to play us, in particular our external teams; Ely Netball team and the Int Corps Girls who took the time to travel and take part in this event. We’d also like to thank all our Line Managers for making it possible for us to participate. Indeed, many of them, along with personnel from all across the Station turned up to cheer us on for our final hour.
Of course, the event couldn’t have gone ahead without the invaluable support of the Station Gymnasium staff, who even put out a team to play us in the early hours. Naturally, we let them win! We were also kept going by SSgt Paul Hamblin and Sgt Li Phan with some morale boosting ‘VIP’ packed lunches – Thank you. Thanks must also go to all in Graphics who created the beautiful banners, and the Photographic Section who captured the event.
The final thank you is from me to all the girls that took part in this gruelling event, the majority of who stayed the entire 24 hours, and those who couldn’t, playing for as long as they could before returning after only a few hours rest bite. The event had its highs and lows, albeit the latter was mainly down to the amount of hormones in one room! However, it was an absolute pleasure organising this event, and we were absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of people that took part and supported us.”
Although the 24-hour Netball Challenge wasn’t specifically a charity event, the Netball Team utilised their time during the event to raise awareness for their chosen charity; Momentum Skills. OIC RAF Wyton Netball, Sgt Gemma Morton told Eagleye why they had chosen the charity:
“The team recently voted on which charity it would support through its fundraising activities, and Momentum Skills was chosen, a charity particularly close to Emily Mason-Jones’ heart. About 10 years ago her dad suffered a serious motorbike accident that left him with multiple injuries, including one to his brain. Despite M-J having been told twice to ‘prepare for the worst’, her dad is very much a fighter, and bit by bit he started to learn how to do everything again; from walking to talking. However, it was doubtful that he would ever be able to work again. Once M-J’s dad regained his motor skills he was put in contact with some fantastic people at Momentum, where they were able to show him that even though he couldn’t do the job he once loved, he was still able to do other things. As time went on, and her dad had learned to live with his disability, he began volunteering at Momentum in order to help other people with similar disabilities to him.
As a result of raising awareness for our chosen charity, we are pleased to announce that we have already raised over £500, which is down to the extraordinary generosity of Station personnel. On behalf of the whole team I would like to thank M-J for all her efforts in organising the 24-hour Netball Challenge, and join her in thanking those who took part, and everyone who helped encourage and support us, including my amazing team mates, without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible.”
Momentum Skills provides vocational rehabilitation and training services, empowering people with disabilities and those who are excluded to gain the skills they need to live independently and to gain access to employment.