September 8, 2008 / 9:12 AM / in 10 years

Briton pays 1.5 million pounds to fly with Red Arrows

LONDON (Reuters) - A British woman has paid 1.5 million pounds in a charity auction to fly with the Royal Air Force’s aerobatic Red Arrows display jets, the Help for Heroes charity said on Monday.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) aerobatic team, the "Red Arrows" perform an aerial display in New York June 25, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Julie Heselden’s winning bid gives her and eight family members or friends the opportunity to fly in the nine famous display Hawk jets after the Royal Air Force put the Red Arrows up for auction for the first time.

Heselden is married to Jimi Heselden. He owns HESCO Bastion, a company that makes temporary blast walls used widely by British and U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We are speechless,” the RAF said in a statement after Heselden’s bid at the Heroes’ Ball on Friday, a fundraiser for the HFH charity which provides support for servicemen and women injured in the line of duty.

“We know it is a special prize — a once in a lifetime opportunity — but we are all astounded that someone could be so generous,” the RAF said.

“The RAF is genuinely delighted to have helped in raising such a fantastic amount of money for such a worthwhile charity.”

Just under a year after being set up the HFH charity has raised more than 10 million pounds.

“The charity has grasped the imagination of the public as they become increasingly aware of the price some of our servicemen and women are paying in serving their country,” said a spokesman for the charity.

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by David Clarke

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