A NATIONAL relay to mark a trio of military anniversaries and raise money for charity has reached the region.

About 1,000 former and serving female members of the Royal Air Force have signed up for the 3,000-mile round-Britain trek which is stopping off at past and present RAF bases across the country.

The North East leg started at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland last week and reached Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) today (Thursday, July 31).

The epic journey has been organised to celebrate 75 years since the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was formed; 65-years since the name changed to WRAF and 20-years since the 'W' officially disappeared under the complete merge with RAF.

The tour began at Stranraer in Scotland on June 28 and will finish at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire on October 25.

Former RAF servicewomen Karen Dunn of Yarm and Vicki Gatenby of Low Worsall took up the metaphorical baton at DTVA today ahead of a 20-mile ride to Stokesley.

The following leg, from Stokesley to RAF Fylingdales, North Yorkshire, will be completed by other RAF associates on horseback.

Mrs Dunn, 44, was an RAF air traffic controller for 16-years before retiring from her last post at RAF Leeming in 2007.

She now works at DTVA and said she was more than happy to support the relay.

“I am a keen cyclist and obviously with my long association with the RAF it’s something I wanted to support,” she said.

Mrs Gatenby, 45, served as an RAF kennel maid for nine years and now works as a veterinary nurse for the Dog’s Trust at Sadberge.

Retired RAF Air Vice-Marshal Phil Roser greeted the women at DTVA.

The relay tour is expected to raise at least £10,000 which will go to the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) and Macmillan Cancer Support.