Spitfire fund soars past the £5,000 mark, thanks to a mystery benefactor
An extremely generous mystery benefactor has donated £1,000 to a fund to bring a Belfast Telegraph Spitfire home.
Seventy years ago, while the Second World War was raging, Belfast Telegraph readers reached deep into their pockets and made an unprecedented contribution to the war effort funding raising enough money to buy 17 Spitfires.
This year the Ulster Aviation Society (UAS) launched a campaign to raise money to bring a full size fibreglass model of a Spitfire to Northern Ireland.
The model is now in place at their hangar at the former Maze Prison site and is the only replica of its type in Northern Ireland.
But the fundraising campaign to pay for it goes on.
They have now passed the £5,000 mark thanks to a generous donation from a mystery donor.
UAS chairman Raymond Burrows described the gift as "truly remarkable".
"This is generosity of the highest order," he said. "It's a tribute to the many aircrews who sacrificed so much to provide the freedom we enjoy in our country today.
"We're hoping this example will prompt others – including businesses and organisations – to consider a donation."
Mr Burrows described the Spitfire as an "iconic aircraft, not only for its stellar performance during the Battle of Britain in 1940 but for its achievements throughout the war in every theatre of operations".
Society members are working hard to prepare the replica aircraft and supports systems – such as a custom trailer – for visits to community events this summer.
Mr Burrows said the society has received a lot of interest in the replica and is sorting through invitations and organising enough volunteers to man commitments.
One of the first appearances of the Spitfire is planned to be at the Belfast Maritime Festival.
The UAS obtained the replica in December through an online auction by a North Yorkshire company, but has mounted a campaign to pay off a £20,000 loan provided by a society member.
Mr Burrows has appealed for more donations to help them continue towards their £20,000 goal.
Cheques should be made payable by post to the Ulster Aviation Society: Garry Macdonald, UAS, 18 Riverview, Portadown BT63 5WP.
Alternatively, online users can contribute by logging in to: bit.ly/uasSpitfireFund.
The society's website is www.ulsteraviationsociety.org.
Greater detail and photos of the new Spitfire can be seen on the society's Facebook page.
STORY SO FAR
Spurred on by headlines such as 'A Spitfire A Day Keeps The Nazis Away' and 'Speed That Spitfire', the original campaign saw thousands of pounds pour in. The 17 planes were named after areas in Northern Ireland. The Tyrone and Harlandic were downed in the same battle off France, while the City of Derry and Londonderry were struck off in 1941.