Two schoolchildren representing the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and The Fire Fighters Charity will take centre stage at the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals after being chosen to perform the pre-match coin toss at The Championships, Wimbledon, in front of an estimated worldwide audience of 1.2 billion.
Tia Carter (aged 11) will take part in the Ladies’ Singles Final coin toss ceremony on Centre Court on Saturday 14 July, representing the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which provides support to serving and former RAF personnel and their dependants.
The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund was nominated by the Wimbledon Foundation, the official charity of The All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships, to mark the centenary of the RAF and the longstanding relationship between the Armed Forces and Wimbledon.
Tia’s father, Wayne, is an RAF serviceman, as was her mother, Joyce, who passed away suddenly in November 2017. Tia has been helped by Airplay, a youth support service run by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund for children and young people growing up on RAF stations across the UK.
Alison Wyman, Head of Welfare Programme and Development at the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund said: “It’s really fitting that an RAF child has been chosen to perform the coin toss for the RAF’s centenary year. We’re really excited for Tia; she deserves a treat given the past year given how devastating it must have been to lose a parent at such a young age.”
Tia said: “I’m most looking forward to meeting the players and walking out with them. I’ve been practising my coin toss twice a day to make sure I can do it.”
Joshua Bills (aged 11) will take part in the coin toss ceremony at the Gentlemen’s Singles Final on Sunday 15 July, representing The Fire Fighters Charity, which provides health and wellbeing services to serving and former members of the fire community and their families. Joshua’s father, Dan, a firefighter, was present at the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. He volunteers as a Service
Steward at The Championships and together with his family has been supported by The Fire Fighters Charity’s Child and Family Programme.
The Wimbledon Foundation nominated The Fire Fighters Charity in recognition of the role the London Fire Brigade play in delivering The Championships. This year also marks The Fire Fighters Charity’s 75th anniversary following its establishment during the Second World War to support the bereaved families of firefighters who died during the Blitz.
Dr Jill Tolfrey, CEO of The Fire Fighters Charity, said: “Joshua’s story exemplifies what The Fire Fighters Charity does because we’re very clear that it’s not just operational staff that need support, but actually the whole family. If the family is supported and functioning well, then the operational staff are able to do their jobs effectively and be there for us when we need them in times of emergency.”
Helen Parker, Wimbledon Foundation & Community Manager, said: “The Wimbledon Foundation supports military and emergency service benevolent funds annually through the Ticket Resale scheme at The Championships in recognition of the valuable role their personnel play as Service Stewards. This year marks important anniversaries for the RAF and The Fire Fighters Charity and we are delighted to be able to give Tia and Joshua, and the two fantastic charities they have been supported by, this amazing opportunity to take centre stage at The Championships.”