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Union J appear to fast rope from Sea King
The 'commandos' about to reveal their identity
Union J enjoy their poppy picnic
A little girl wears a RM commando helmet

Sea King has the X-Factor

Published: 25 Jun 2013

X-Factor boy band Union J joined forces with the Navy’s most battle-hardened helicopter to help launch the Royal British Legion’s summer fund-raising campaign. The four lads donned combat gear to fly in the ‘King of the Junglies’ – and deliver a specially-prepared picnic.

Rapid roping out of the Navy’s most battle-hardened helicopter are X-Factor boy band Union J – who linked up with the Commando Helicopter Force to promote a ‘poppy picnic’ campaign by the Royal British Legion.

The quartet – formed during last year’s X-Factor TV series – appear in full-kit, roping out of the side of ZA298 (better known as the ‘King of the Junglies’) – to deliver grub to some unsuspecting picnickers in a viral video.

The Sea King survived enemy fire in the Falklands (a 30mm shell struck on of its blade), small arms in the Balkans in the 1990s, and was out of action for 18 months after being peppered by Taleban fire in Afghanistan.

It’s now back on front-line duties with 846 NAS – one of four RNAS Yeovilton-based squadrons of the Commando Helicopter Force which are the wings of the Royal Marines.

Not among its missions over the past 30 years, however, was delivering a boy band to a family enjoying a summery picnic (although, obviously, it’s not really the singers rapid roping out of the side, but fully-trained hard-as-nails pirate-busting drug-runner-arresting green berets)

While filming the two-minute video – you can view it here – was fun, there was a serious part for the band: for the armed forces and the Legion is a cause with special personal connections to the band – members George Shelley and Josh Cuthbert both have family serving in the military.

“My brother is currently serving in the Royal Marines, so the Royal British Legion is a cause especially close to my heart. They’re there for the entire Armed Forces community, both serving and ex-Service,” said 19-year-old George, Union J’s youngest member.

As for the picnic campaign, the RBL wants families and friends to get together over the summer to hold fund-raising picnics for the Forces charity – it needs £1.6m every week to fund its activities.

For more information on hosting your own Poppy Picnic, visit:


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