On Monday June 7th after a journey of many years of effort and a final push to supporters, the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group passed the £1million raised or pledged mark. This is a major milestone for the project who are resolutely moving forwards on the path towards raising the circa £5million required in order to return Hawker Typhoon MkIb, RB396, to full working order. This is for the benefit of the public, as a memorial to all who designed, built, tested, delivered, maintained and flew the type – especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The “Supporters’ Club” was founded in late 2016 at the official public launch of the project, with the charity having been formed in May of the same year, with almost zero in the bank at the time. Through the dedication of the team, which has seen many changes over the years, with only a handful of those around at the start still playing a part in this great story, and the generosity of those who have supported their efforts and contributed so far, £1million has now been raised or pledged to the cause. It was somewhat fitting therefore, that the contribution that took the fundraising total over the line was from an existing “Supporters’ Club” member upgrading to become a Platinum Supporter.
The vast majority of all funds raised and pledged have come from the “Supporters’ Club” and its members, either through their subscriptions, extra donations, specific appeals, or merchandise purchases. Without the supporters this project would not be where it is today; without the team it would net even exist.
The Project Director, and sole remaining founding trustee, Sam Worthington-Leese said of this momentous occasion “When I first started this journey, some two years of slowly building support came before the charity itself was formed in 2016 and people said it was impossible. ‘There’s no way you can raise £5million’ – ‘it’ll never happen- ‘no one will support that’….. Well. That was then and this is now. We’re doing it. We’re a fifth of the way there and I would like to thank the team for their continued hard work and each and every person who has contributed to this project over the years. It was not the first contribution or the last one that got us over the line, it was all of them combined.”
The race towards this fundraising milestone has its roots in the formation of the “Platinum Club” in April 2020, on the 75th anniversary of RB396’s final flight. This was one of the first steps of the project refocus which was enacted in 2020. The project took the difficult decision to move away from airshows, introducing new merchandise and conducting smaller events, instead focusing their limited resources on higher value enterprises with a targeted fundraising approach. The results of this refocus have now bedded in and the fruits of that labor are well and truly growing. This is evidenced by not only passing this significant milestone, but by demonstrating more than double the funds raised and pledged in the last year than in the previous financial year, an increase of more than £220,000 – all while withstanding the global pandemic which has hit the charity sector particularly hard.
The project has seen many milestones in its relatively short history, from the formation of the charity in 2016, to securing a pristine Napier Sabre in early 2017 with thanks to Cranfield University. Then establishing a base later that year, a number of fundraising campaigns, parts purchases and the announcement of the Aircraft Restoration Company becoming the engineering support patterns in 2018, a public crowdfunder in 2019, the registration of RB396 and the rebuild commencing a matter of months later, surviving COVID-19 in 2020 and now reaching the first £1million. There have also been many other milestones and announcements along the way, all highlighting the dedication of the all volunteer team giving up their spare time to work on this.
Of course, the fundraising does not stop here. The team is now steadily working on plans to continue the efforts and move towards the next £4million. The “Supporters’ Club” is being rebranded very soon, with extra support tiers being added featuring many new and exciting benefits and building on the success of the Platinum tier. Several exclusive partnerships have been arranged for supporters, with companies such as Aces High, the Aerial Collective and more, offering discounts on services, products, or exclusive packages. Work continues on planning a Black Tie gala for October at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, featuring a Spitfire sunset air display, live music, three course meal, special guests, live auction and silent auctions. The event promises to be unmissable and tickets will be extremely limited when they go on sale later in the year – supporters will receive exclusive first rights to tickets and with such a limited amount, a sell out event is expected.
With the new direction, the first stage of the rebuild soon to be completed and many exciting announcements in the coming weeks and months, the project is not slowing down, it is just getting started. The next few years are going to be some of the most exciting in the project’s history, with RB396 really beginning to take shape as she moves towards completion.
If you would like to make a contribution, or to become a supporter to be involved, keep up to date with developments and have access to all the exclusive benefits, please visit www.hawker-typhoon.com/support-us