Great British icon: National Spitfire Monument takes off

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National Spitfire Monument

There is no time like the present to commemorate great courage.

The National Spitfire Project has launched its public fundraising appeal today, coinciding with yesterday’s 77th anniversary of VE-Day, to construct the national monument to a great British icon – the Supermarine Spitfire.

This new national monument will commemorate all the men and women from more than 30 allied countries who designed, built, flew and maintained this aircraft during the Second World War – honouring the past and inspiring future generations.

The National Spitfire Monument will appear to soar into the skies over Southampton – the Hampshire location for this national icon has been determined by both the aircraft’s production birthplace (the Vickers-Armstrongs Aviation Supermarine Works at Woolston, previously known as the Supermarine Aviation Works) and its maiden flight (from Southampton Municipal Airport in Eastleigh, now Southampton Airport, on 5 March 1936).

Standing 40m tall, on a par with the scale of the Statue of Liberty, the monument will be a gleaming stainless-steel structure – one and a half times the size of the original aircraft. Roundels and emblems in the base will be interactive and educational, and the monument is expected to be seen by more than seven million people every year.

The monument has official backing at national and local levels – with £3m match funding promised by UK Government and the support of Southampton City Council.

Commenting on the fundraising launch, John M Hannides, Chairman of the National Spitfire Project – the charity behind the monument – and Southampton City Councillor, said:

“The Spitfire is a great British icon. It embodies courage and hope against adversity, it is the epitome of engineering excellence and innovation, and it represents the spirit of collaboration too – diversity and unity, coming together for a common cause. During the Second World War, men and women from all over the world helped raised funds to ‘build a Spitfire’ for the war effort. Some people paid a few pennies ‘for a sparkplug’; some towns and companies ‘paid for a wing’ or ‘an engine’ – or even funded a whole aircraft. Fundraising for the new National Spitfire Monument continues to draw on that same public goodwill, alongside the UK Government’s match funding.”

Also commenting, Royston Smith GM MP, one of the Trustees of the National Spitfire Project, said:

“The iconic Spitfire was instrumental in defending our country during WW2 but particularly during the Battle of Britain. This country and our lives would have been very different but for the heroism of the young pilots who bravely took to the skies in R J Mitchell’s magnificent feat of engineering. We are proud to call Southampton the home of the Spitfire and I am grateful to the Government for trusting us to deliver this project and for supporting it by match funding donations with £3m from Treasury.”

Men and women of many nations devoted themselves to the Spitfire’s testing and construction, its delivery, its maintenance, and the flights that it made.

The engineering of the Spitfire, designed in Southampton, gave the aircraft better turns of speed, better aerobatic abilities, and an impressive turning circle – all needed to help outmanoeuvre enemy aircraft. Pilots loved it. The people were inspired by it.

The National Spitfire Monument will commemorate all those who were involved, and the monument’s plinth will be interactive too, so that visitors can learn more about the aircraft, its heritage, and its pivotal role in the Battle of Britain.

Cllr Hannides said:

“The Spitfire is never forgotten, but we have never had a national monument to this aircraft as a fitting tribute to all those who helped build it, fly and maintain it – and protected our skies with it. The Spitfire has great international importance, with a silhouette that inspires hope and a sound that inspires awe. Thanks to Government funding, we’ve secured half the money already to build this stunning monument, and now we need the public’s help to raise the remaining £3m. Every penny counts – it’s a monument in peacetime that sends a message: we will remember them.”

More information is available online at www.nationalspitfireproject.org


To donate:

The easiest way to donate is online: www.justgiving.com/nationalspitfireproject

Or:

Text ‘SPITFIRE’ to 70085 to donate £10

Text ‘SPITFIRE’ to 70450 to donate £20

Texts will cost the donation amount plus one standard network rate message, and you’ll be opting into hearing from us. If you would like to donate but don’t wish to hear more from us, please text: SPITFIRENOINFO instead.

Send your cheque made payable to ‘National Spitfire Project’, to:

National Spitfire Project

c/o Evolution5

Stirling House

St Johns Road

Hedge End

Southampton

SO30 4AA

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