Belfast Telegraph

Chocks away as £1,300 in donations gets Spitfire campaign airborne

By Rebecca Black

A fundraising campaign to bring the spirit of the Spitfire home to Northern Ireland has soared to an impressive start.

More than £1,300 has been donated to the Ulster Aviation Society since the Belfast Telegraph revealed its bid to pay for a stunning full-size replica of the famous aircraft.

And one of the first contributions came all the way from Canada courtesy of Paddy Carson – brother of Ulster comic legend Frank Carson.

Ulster Aviation Society chairman Ray Burrows said it is delighted at the start to the fundraising campaign.

"This is quite a beginning–even before the beginning," he said.

"We have a date in mind for the rollout of the Spitfire in early March, but some donors couldn't wait to help out."

He said the first cheque, which was to the value of £100 and came all the way from Canada signed by Mr Carson, was much appreciated.

"It's a cracker!" joked Mr Burrows, miming the famous catchphrase of Paddy's entertaining brother.

"Paddy had found out about our Spitfire plans from a friend over here and dug into his chequebook right away."

The society has brought the full-size replica of a Spitfire fighter into the growing collection at its Maze/Long Kesh hangar as a tribute to the fighting spirit and sacrifice shown in World War Two by British and Allied aircrew.

Mr Burrows said the fighter will be displayed to the public and used as an educational tool.

During the Second World War Belfast Telegraph readers dug deep and donated enough money to pay for 17 Spitfires for the war effort.

The goal had originally been to raise enough money for one, but with pledges pouring into our Royal Avenue offices, it became clear the generosity of readers would buy a squadron and more.

Launched a day before the Luftwaffe began its bombardment of manufacturing bases and defence installations in 1940, the Belfast Telegraph's Spitfire Fund generated an impressive £88,633,16s.5d – the equivalent to £2,886,803.54 in today's money.

Belfast Telegraph editor Mike Gilson said the newspaper was proud of its past effort and to be associated with the society's current campaign.

"This was a record for newspaper Spitfire fundraising," he said.

"The newspaper is proud to be associated with the current campaign by the aviation society, a fantastic charity."

BACKGROUND

Over 70 years ago generous Belfast Telegraph readers dug deep and raised enough money to buy 17 Spitfires, which saw action in the Second World War. Now we are backing the Ulster Aviation Society's bid to bring home the Spitfire spirit. The society has purchased a replica of a Spitfire, which it plans to tour around Northern Ireland to educate people and thrill plane enthusiasts.

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