David’s Story



Revd Dr David Richardson is an RAF Chaplain.

Here is his story:

As I crouched behind the blast wall that passed for a departure lounge, the steady double thump of Chinook rotors grew louder and louder as the aircraft approached the tiny landing ground in the patrol base. The loadmaster quickly waved me on and I dashed under the searing heat of the exhausts, blades whirling furiously over my head. Making myself as comfortable as I could in my body armour and helmet, the helicopter soon lifted off and set me on course for another part of Helmand province. Visiting my parishioners as a curate in the UK had been much simpler!


Approximately two hundred clergy serve as full-time military chaplains in the UK, working with the Royal Navy, the Armydavidsquote and the Royal Air Force, with a smaller number serving in a variety of reserve capacities. Their job is simply to share the love of God with British servicemen and women wherever they go, which may involve anything from a listening ear and support through a crisis, to conducting a Bible study or an informal Communion. Chaplains can be found on ships in storm-tossed seas, in makeshift church tents in the desert, or jumping from the sky with paratroopers. We wear the same uniform as those we serve, and share the rigours of Service life – all because we feel that God has called us here. It’s a calling shared by my wife Ruth and children, too – who have to deal with frequent separations and an often-unpredictable lifestyle. We once shared Christmas via email!


Chaplains have the privilege of serving the military community in some of the most challenging situations of bereavement, loss and personal grief. We are also there for the marriages, the baptisms, and the celebrations. In the military but not of it, we offer a trusted and compassionate presence to troops and families alike. The opportunity to discuss our faith is seldom far away; many a conversation starts with an apologetic, “I’m not religious, Padre, but…”.


To paraphrase one Great War chaplain, we go where the troops go; if we are not always able to pray with them, we can always pray for them. And we ask that you do too!


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