A lasting legacy for the world’s most iconic aircraft is one step closer following the launch of a public fundraising campaign.
A charity, The National Spitfire Project, has been set up to oversee the fundraising and building of Britain’s first National Spitfire Monument in Southampton where the aircraft was designed, built and first flown.
The charity’s President, former Rolls-Royce Chief Executive, Sir Ralph Robins, said, “The monument is unique in that it will stand in honour and testament to everyone involved in the design, manufacture, operation and maintenance of the Spitfire.”
The design concept has been chosen for a dramatic landmark, 1.5 times the size of the original Spitfire, soaring 40m above ground. While honouring the men and women who designed, built, flew and supported this remarkable aircraft, the monument’s innovative design also includes interactive experiences aimed at inspiring current and future engineers and pilots.
Planning permission has been granted for the monument to be built as the focal point for the regenerated and vastly expanded waterfront at Southampton. The charity has also secured free legal, accountancy, project management and PR support from numerous businesses.
John Hannides, Chairman of the charity’s Board of Trustees, said, “Britain has, quite rightly, always celebrated the RAF pilots who flew the Spitfire – Churchill’s ‘The Few’. Now, as we approach the 80th anniversary of the Spitfire’s first flight, we believe it’s also time to remember and thank ‘The Many’ who made the legend possible.”
During the war, over 100 workers were killed in air raids targeting the Supermarine factory in Southampton. Despite the dangers, the remaining workforce never gave up; by the end of the war, they had built more than 8,000 Spitfires. Many were ordinary people who never fired a shot, yet their courage and determination helped to win the war. There are of course countless more stories of personal sacrifice, with a further 10,000 spitfires built at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham.
John Hannides continued, “The Spitfire is a national symbol of courage, hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. It represents innovation, cutting-edge technology and world-class design, all of which are as relevant to current and future generations as they were 80 years ago.
“The charity has made great progress with this project, but now we turn to the general public to help it really take off. The Spitfire itself was an early example of crowdfunding in action as the public bought sixpenny savings stamps and donated their pots, pans, gates and railings to help build more Spitfires – and it changed the course of history. Now’s our chance to do the same.”
The charity’s initial fundraising target is ￡250,000 to commission the detailed design and engineering drawings required before moving on to the construction phase. It is estimated that the final cost of the monument will be ￡4 million.
To join the fundraising effort and support this iconic project, visit the National Spitfire Project’s crowdfunding page on www.crowdfunder.co.uk and search for ‘The National Monument to the Spitfire’.