Supercars for Steve as top machines visit Yeovilton in memory of CHF senior rate

Topic: Fighting armsFleet Air Arm Storyline: 846 NAS

Eighty of the fastest, most expensive and most eye-catching cars on UK roads had jaws dropping at RNAS Yeovilton.

More than £100m of motors were on show at the unique ‘Festival of Steve’ – a fundraising event in memory of 846 Naval Air Squadron stalwart Chief Petty Officer Steve ‘Happy’ Munday.

The senior rating who died earlier this year after a brief illness was the driving force behind ensuring sailors rattled tins in the capital for London Poppy Day in the run-up to the Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance – and one reason the veterans’ charity raised more than £8m over the past 11 years.

Friends and Commando Helicopter Force colleagues wanted to continue his fundraising efforts and came up with a rebranded ‘Festival of Speed’.

The 80 cars comprised supercars of all marques, McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar, Porsche and Aston Martin, some classic cars and some one-offs like the Aston Martin Bulldog (£9.2m) and Formula World Series Red Bull.

The latter team fired up the engine of their Formula World Series vehicle – loud enough to echo pretty much all around the base – while 846 personnel got the chance to view, sit in and start up some of supercars (total value circa £103m), while the motorists and families were treated to tours of Merlin and Sea King Mk4s and had a good look at the vintage Sea Fury.

All 220 guests received limited edition poppy pin badges which featured Mk4 Sea King and Merlin Mk4 – two helicopters Happy worked on.

Guests of honour were Happy’s widow, Kerry and their three children aged nine through 15.

“The event was incredible!” said Kerry. “It takes very special people to make children happy during their darkest of days. I am – and I know Steven would be – forever grateful, not just for making three children very happy, but for raising funds for the Royal British Legion which will be used to support many others during their own difficult times.

“Steven would be in awe of everyone’s generosity. It is hard for us to summarise our feelings for you all and what you did/continue to do for others – you truly are very special people.”

Mrs Munday was presented with The National Certificate of Appreciation – the Legion’s highest honour – in recognition of her late husband’s dedication.

“Losing Steve was a huge shock to us all, and if I am honest I still can’t quite believe he isn’t with us anymore, there is a huge Steve-shaped hole in not only mine but the London Poppy Day Family's lives and he is and always will be sorely missed,” said Abigail Ball Station Commander of the London City East Sector for London Poppy Day.

Together with donations from Happy’s former colleagues at Culdrose and CHF personnel deployed to Norway for winter training, more than £16,000 was raised for a special project at the RBL Dunkirk House in Taunton. Once complete a commemorative plaque will be mounted in Happy’s name.

“To be able to make Happy’s family’s world stop spinning for a short while was worth all of the effort. Their smiles and seeing them amongst old and new friends was heart-warming and I know that the day will stay in their memories for a long time,” said event organiser Warrant Officer 1st Class Baz Firth, former base warrant officer at Yeovilton, now serving with the RN Leadership Academy at BRNC Dartmouth.

“To see all the aircrew and engineers enjoy some time away from work with the cars and guests was also a welcome morale boost. Even the weather was perfect.”

Steven would be in awe of everyone’s generosity. It is hard for us to summarise our feelings for you all and what you did/continue to do for others – you truly are very special people.

Kerry Munday