RAF Museum Youth Apprentice Awarded Prize for Outstanding Service

Museum Apprentice Bethany Colburn was named ‘Rotary Club of Wolverhampton - Apprentice of the Year’ (Image '©Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum’)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

Museum Apprentice Bethany Colburn was named ‘Rotary Club of Wolverhampton - Apprentice of the Year’ (Image '©Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum’)
Museum Apprentice Bethany Colburn was recently named ‘Rotary Club of Wolverhampton – Apprentice of the Year’ for her dedicated efforts at RAF Museum Cosford (Image ‘©Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum’)

Warbirds News believes in giving notice, when it’s due, to the achievements of today’s youth in their endeavors with aviation history. It’s important to show that their hard work is noticed in a positive light, especially as this might encourage other young people to become involved as well. With that in mind, we are happy to report that Bethany Colburn, an apprentice at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, recently received recognition for her outstanding conservation work on the Dornier Do-17 project. The Rotary Club of Wolverhampton named Bethany their “Apprentice of the Year” and also presented her with the George Sidebotham Memorial Award at their annual awards evening on February 28th.

As the RAF Museum press release states, “This is the third annual award presented by the club in honour of former long-serving member George Sidebotham, who was as an RAF Lancaster pilot with 100 Squadron during the Second World War, and also a prisoner of war during the time of the Great Escape.  As a tribute to Mr Sidebotham, the Rotary Club created the annual awards and has offered continued support for the RAF Museum’s conservation efforts and team of Apprentices.

The event was attended by five of the RAF Museum’s Apprentices, accompanied by the Museum’s Training & Development Manager and Conservation Centre Manager. During the evening, Apprentices gave a presentation to Rotary Club members and their guests, about the ground-breaking work they are currently undertaking on the Dornier Do-17, the largest conservation project ever undertaken by the RAF Museum.  Bethany was presented with a trophy and a cheque, before being awarded an additional prize from Bomber Command Historian Rob Davis.

Bethany was nominated by RAF Museum Training & Development Manager, Mick Shepherd for the improvements she has shown over the last twelve months. Bethany has put herself forward and played an integral part in the conservation of the smaller Dornier components and has work closely with Museum Volunteers on the project.  During the 2013 Conservation Centre Open Week, members of the Rotary Club observed the relationship Bethany had built with the Volunteers and were impressed by her interaction with the public and the work she was showcasing.

Bethany Colburn, RAF Museum Apprentice said:

“I was delighted to have been chosen by the Rotary Club of Wolverhampton as this year’s Apprentice of the Year.  It’s great to have the support of the Rotary Club and to gain recognition for the conservation work we do.” 

The Rotary Club of Wolverhampton is the oldest club in the city, founded in 1921 and has a current membership of 63.  Their purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. They are regular attendees to the Museum’s Conservation Centre Open Week in November and seek to raise awareness of former member, George Sidebotham’s story through books and DVD’s, with the proceeds going towards the apprentice awards.

This acknowledgment comes just one week before National Apprenticeship Week which is a nation wide celebration of Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.  This annual Apprenticeship Week aims to increase the awareness, understanding and demand for Apprenticeships, as well as celebrate the wealth of talent, skills, achievements and successes.

The RAF Museum’s Apprenticeship scheme began in 2005, due to a shortage of people with the hand skills required to look after its historic aircraft collection.  The Museum began running apprenticeships for heritage aircraft engineers who soon proved to be a source of enthusiastic, reliable, trustworthy, capable and safe pairs of extra hands.  Nurtured by the Museum’s Aircraft Technicians, master craftsman in their trade, the Apprentices rapidly developed their hand-skills and their work is now enthusiastically incorporated into Museum exhibits for future generations to admire.  The Apprentices are a vital asset in the Museum’s team and have enabled the Museum to be less reliant on outside contractors and to keep more work in house under its direct control.”

While this may seem like a minor news item to report, Warbirds News begs to differ. The only way our passion for aviation history will be preserved for the future is if we nurture these same interests in the younger generations. So we urge our readers to get involved, and foster those aims by volunteering and/or supporting investment in youth programs at aviation-related museums. After all, our own interests started simply enough when someone else took the time to introduce us into the world of Vintage Aviation. It’s time to pay it forward.

This coming Monday, Warbirds News will be presenting a feature on the RAF Museum’s Handley Page Hampden restoration project which Bethany Colburn and her fellow apprentices are helping to resurrect, so stay tuned!


  1. Congratulations Bethany. Your dedication is very much appreciated by all those around the world who love aviation history.

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