Phil Holdcroft is no stranger to taking on strenuous challenges. As an RAF pilot veteran of 17 years with 7 operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt, he’s used to physically and mentally demanding trials. But nothing could have prepared him for the experience of watching his youngest daughter, Isla, undergo treatment for Leukaemia at just 22 months old.

Throughout her treatment and as she entered remission, Starlight was there for Isla, Phil and their entire family to help distract and entertain Isla as she underwent overwhelming operations. Starlight even took the whole Holdcroft family on a Starlight trip holiday to where Isla met Santa and the family was able to take a break from their everyday worries.

Starlight has enormous sentimental meaning to our family. At the end of Isla's gruelling treatment for Leukaemia, Starlight took Isla to Lapland where she met Santa Claus. After two Christmases spent in hospital, words cannot describe the sheer joy of spending unadulterated precious family moments in a magical place.

This year is Isla’s 5th year in remission and she is now a thriving, healthy and happy eight year old. This year also marks Isla as officially cured of Leukaemia.

For the past 5 years, Phil has participated in near-impossible endurance challenges to mark each year that brought Isla closer to to this milestone. From gruelling marathons to 100K and 100-mile races, Phil has increased the difficulty with each passing year.

This year’s challenge, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, will see him taking on his toughest yet – the perfect way to celebrate Isla’s 5th year in remission. Phil will lead 3 other RAF pilots on their epic journey as they row 3-000 miles in a race across the Atlantic.

Put simply, we want to test our leadership, teamwork, guts and stamina in an event like no other; in doing so we hope to represent the very essence of the RAF on the global stage and use this once in a lifetime opportunity to highlight and raise money for the incredible Starlight charity.

The Atlantic Flyers embark on their journey on 12th December and will spend several weeks out on the water as they row from the Canary Islands to Antigua & Barbuda. You can follow along on their journey at