Donna Beek

Their cheers can be heard throughout the lobby of the Invictus Village at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Their bright smiles are as easy to spot as their custom-made blue T-shirts. They are the ex-WRAFs on Tour, a group of eight retired members of the British Women’s Royal Air Force, who have travelled to Toronto to volunteer for the 2017 Invictus Games.

Being part of the Invictus Games is “like being brought back into the military family,” said Nicola Willis-Jones, who also volunteered at the Invictus Games Orlando 2016. She is in awe of the selflessness of the competitors, who support each other through recovery, and the feeling of universality she feels during matches. Nicola finds it inspiring that this support and connectivity extends beyond service branch, nationality and language.

“It’s not just about supporting Team UK, it’s about supporting all the athletes,” adds Amanda Meehan, who served as a catering officer for the WRAF and now lives in Canada. From the time Amanda heard the announcement that the second Invictus Games would be held in Orlando, Florida, she knew she wanted to be involved, and she helped organize the participation of ex-WRAF service members who interact on Facebook. By posting about their Orlando experience on Facebook, Amanda found it easy to encourage the group from the UK and USA to volunteer in Toronto.

Most ex-WRAF members are meeting in person for the first time at the 2017 Invictus Games. They look forward to spending time with each other — including a trip to Niagara Falls during a day off from volunteering — and interacting with the competitors.

The entire group is excited to welcome the competitors and their family and friends to the Invictus Village, where they are happy to form part of the welcome committee. “It’s fun because we get to meet everyone!” said the group before they gathered for a photo — one of many, we’re sure!

You can say hello to the ex-WRAFs on Tour as they serve as members of the Invictus Village crew throughout the Games.

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