A close friendship with one of Churchill’s famous “Few” inspired vital repair work on storm-damaged Spitfire and Hurricane replicas at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent, saving the Trust that runs the site many thousands of pounds.
The two aircraft were damaged when winter storms ripped through the home of the National Memorial to the Few on Kent’s iconic white cliffs, just outside Folkestone.
While the Hurricane escaped with a damaged tail wheel, the undercarriage on the Spitfire was badly twisted, with the result that site manager Jules Gomez and Trustee Nick Lawn had to make it safe by supporting the wings with wooden pallets.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, already dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, was facing repair costs of anything up to £10,000 when Dave Brocklehurst MBE, volunteer at, and chairman of, the nearby Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust, came forward.
Dave got in touch with Eric Cook, a director of Cook Fabrications, whose daughter Lucy is one of his museum volunteers, and persuaded the company to help repair the damaged undercarriage on both aircraft free of charge.
Eric sent welder Chris Clifford to the site, where he worked alongside Dave and the Trust’s site manager Jules Gomez to make sure both aircraft were soon back flying straight and level.
“Wing Commander Geoffrey Page, DSO, OBE, DFC*, who flew in the Battle of Britain and was one of the leading lights behind the campaign to set up the National Memorial back in 1993, was a close friend of mine,” Dave explained.
“He asked me to promise that if the Memorial ever needed help in the future, I would be there – and this seemed like one of those times. The museum is only a couple of miles up the road and this was a great chance to help out another charity that shares our aim of honouring the memory of Geoffrey and the rest of the Few.”
Trust chairman Richard Hunting CBE said: “This was a remarkable gesture both by the company and by Dave, whose practical skills and experience allowed him to see what needed doing and who then set things in motion. This has saved us a lot of money at a difficult time, and we are delighted with such generous support.”
NOTE to editor: The Trust’s Wing visitor centre and car park are currently closed in line with government guidelines, but if the ‘roadmap’ remains as currently, will open from Wednesday to Sunday each week starting on Wednesday 19 May. The external features at the clifftop site, including the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall and the National Memorial to the Few, are always open to visitors on foot. For more information see www.battleofbritainmemorial.org