Dinner Honours Aircraft While Fundraising for Medical Air Service
The Isle of Axholme Lions afforded their community an original opportunity on 10th May. Their Dine with Vulcan XH558 event at Robin Hood Airport let diners enjoy views of the only airworthy Vulcan in her hangar, and hear about the craft’s history, while helping to fund the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance service.
The Vulcan was designed to carry Britain’s first atomic bomb, the “Blue Danube,” in case of Soviet nuclear attack. From 1957 to 1969, the Vulcan was Britain’s main contribution to NATO’s nuclear deterrent program. Vulcan crews, comprising two pilots, two navigators and an air electronics officer, stood on alert 24 hours a day. Luckily, no British bomber ever had to fly with a live nuclear weapon, due to successful deterrent strategy.
When deterrence responsibilities were shifted to the Royal Navy, Vulcans were used as tactical nuclear and conventional bombers, maritime reconnaissance, and in air-to-air refuelling. In 1982, Vulcans flew seven missions to the Falkland Islands, taking the world record for the longest-ever bombing mission, with a return journey of nearly 8,000 miles. By 1984, only two Vulcans were left in service. The XH558 flew from 1960 until 1993, and work to return her to flight began in 1997.
The Lions event included a three-course dinner, before which everyone enjoyed a talk from Martin Withers, who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for being the first pilot to successfully fly to the Falklands and bomb Port Stanley airport. Also, each table was treated to a guided tour of the craft.
Raffle and auction prizes were on offer as well, including beauty products, Vulcan memorabilia, a gas barbeque and rugby collectables. The Lions exceeded their fundraising goal, and were able to donate £3,800 to the 20-year-old Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance based at RAF Waddington. Yearly, the service needs £1.8 million to keep flying.
Colin Ridley, part of the organising team, says they used emails to promote the event, and were planning to use Twitter as well, but sold out before getting the chance. He also notes that anyone planning an event should prepare for hard work and some obstacles. “Intense work is needed,” Ridley says. “Do not underestimate how much needs to be done to make it a top-quality event. Our start time changed, so we had to do a ticket reprint. It was simple with your dependable service. Two or three days, and the new ones arrived.”
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