This is such a great story, but before I go on, let me make it about me.
In 1998, I did what very few (if any) Lincoln City representatives have ever done. Whilst filming an advert for AXA Insurance, I got to hold the FA Cup in the Royal Box. I didn’t think anyone would ever top that, but this weekend, City defender Rachael Howes did.
This weekend, instead of filming an advert in a mascot suit, Rachel enjoyed a moment to savour as she helped hand out the medals at the Vitality Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley. Rachael had the privilege of taking the medals up to the Royal Box to be distributed as part of the involvement she has within the Royal Air Force’s women’s team.
Corporal Howes has served in the RAF for more than 10 years and is a survival equipment technician at RAF Coningsby, working on a frontline Typhoon squadron. A crowd of more than 75,000 were at the final which, ended in victory for Chelsea over Manchester United thanks to Sam Kerr’s second-half strike.
Rachael said: “I was selected for the FA Cup role through my involvement with the RAF Women’s Representative football team, where I’m currently vice-captain. Sport is a huge thing across all three of the services.
“It was a huge privilege to be able to take the winners’ medals to the Royal Box and place them for HRH The Prince of Wales and Debbie Hewitt MBE to present to the Chelsea players.
“My main thought was just to not trip over while carrying the huge tray of medals. I also didn’t think I’d be shown on TV and given a full introduction from the BBC commentator – which was lovely.
“I also took my parents, who were proud to see me in the Royal Box, and wife Toni along so she got to high-five all the players as they went up the steps for post-match presentations.”
Rachael got to meet some of the biggest names in women’s football and met some of the England players who made history last summer as they won the European Championship – though she missed the decisive strike from Sam Kerr.
She added: “We were escorted from our seats midway through the second half to get changed into our military uniforms, there was a TV in the changing room and we noticed we’d missed the goal!
“Seeing behind the scenes of such a huge game was an absolute pleasure – a whole team of people were sorting out medals, trophy ribbons, Champagne and anything else you could think of. All in all it was a great day with lovely weather and an incredible crowd.
“To see women’s football continue to grow is fantastic and it was an honour to be a very small part of a very big day.”
Congratulations to Rachel on this wonderful moment, and in putting my little achievement in some perspective!