Fundraising reached new heights today at City of Derry Airport as members of the airport staff headed out on a sponsored walk for a local children’s cancer charity, the
Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC). The group of 30 Airport employees took part in the walk, completing a 2 mile circuit leading up the runway and finishing in the airport terminal building.
Airport Manager, Mr Damien Tierney said, “Supporting our local community is very important to the team here at City of Derry Airport, and what better way to support NICFC than getting active? We were all very much looking forward to our Runway Walk, everyone has really enjoyed themselves and are delighted to be able to help a very worthwhile cause.”
Commercial and Marketing Executive, Charlene Shongo said “City of Derry Airport were delighted to take part in this fundraising event to help raise vital funds needed to support NI fund for Children. The Airport has undergone major transformation in the past two years and wanted to give something back to the local community, ahead of our Summer Sun 2012 schedule being announced. Some of the improvements include: brand new Security Search Area; Free Wi – Fi; Car Parking Booking System; V.I.P Lounge; and Airport Shopping. The programme has helped secure a 20% increase in passenger volumes during 2011. Building on the fantastic choice of flights on offer from City of Derry Airport this winter, we are delighted to announce our preliminary summer sun schedule for 2012 which includes: Alicante, Faro, Tenerife; Salou; and Majorca.
NICFC provides practical, emotional and financial support to children, teenagers and
young people in Northern Ireland who are affected by cancer, and their families. Corporate Fundraiser for the charity, Sorcha Chipperfield added, “Every week in Northern Ireland, another three families will hear the devastating news that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. For these families, life will be turned upside down with frequent trips to hospital, gruelling treatment and the everyday practical concerns that come with a childhood cancer diagnosis, such as financial worries.” Sorcha added, “This is a fantastic event and will make a real difference to the lives of children, teenagers and young people living with cancer in Northern Ireland.”.
You can support NICFC by taking part in the Winter Woolie Walk at Ness Woods or Roe Valley Country Park on Saturday 25th Feb 2012. Call 028 9080 5599 to register. If you would like to find out more about NICFC, or hold your own fundraising event in work please visit www.nicfc.com or call Sorcha on 028 9080 5599.
HISTORIC SPITFIRE FINALLY RETURNS TO BASE.
70 years after Spitfire P8074 took off from runway 02 at RAF Eglinton, its tailwheel finally touched down again today on the same runway at the City of Derry Airport.
Members of the team which successfully excavated the Mk IIa Spitfire in June this year from a boggy moor on the Inishowen peninsula symbolically reunited the recovered tailwheel with the former war time runway to commemorate its return to base – albeit slightly late.
Jonny McNee who organised this first licenced excavation of a WW2 aircraft in Ireland said the team has been stunned by the state of preservation of the remains.
“The lack of oxygen in the 30 ft of clay ensured many sensitive items survived – the first aid kit, the pilot’s helmet and incredibly paperwork”. He added: “The machine guns, currently being cleaned by the Irish Defence Force’s Ordnance team, are immaculate and even large sections of the tail rudder still retain their original fabric covering” All the recovered remains have now been carefully cleaned, identified, preserved and catalogued.
The recovery made headlines around the world, including Canada which has recently led to an exciting development in the story. The aircraft was the first of a celebrated war time donation of 8 new Spitfires by successful Canadian businessman Garfield Weston.
“It was a moral boosting purchase by the Canadian retail mogul during the RAF’s darkest days in 1940” said Jonny McNee.
Now his son Galen Weston has made a significant donation through the Weston Foundation to assist Derry City Council’s Museum Services in displaying the remains and preserving the sensitive items. Roisin Doherty from the Council’s Museum Service said “The Council are deeply appreciative of this generous offer and now we will focus on how best to display this historic aircraft”. Mr Weston has also funded a commemorative plaque for 133 (Eagle) Squadron RAF which were stationed at RAF Eglinton during October 1941 to January 1942. It will be unveiled in the City of Derry Airport terminal later this year along with a small display of artefacts recovered from the excavation – including the tailwheel.
The recovery was a tremendous team effort and Mr McNee was quick to praise all those who had contributed to the success of this exciting project. He included R Robinson & Son in Claudy who transported the remains from the mountainside on the day of the excavation and then steam cleaned the engine back to a pristine condition at their Claudy Quarry. “Without their help, the team would still be scrubbing away” said a relieved Mr McNee.
“The team also really appreciate the support of the Council Museum team and the City of Derry Airport in ensuring this project can be displayed to its full potential. I’m sure when the display opens, people coming to see it in the Council Museum will be really impressed”.
The substantial remains of the RAF aircraft, which was abandoned by its American pilot Roland L Wolfe after the engine overheated during a convoy patrol, were recovered as part of a BBC NI three-part documentary series called Dig WW2 which will be broadcast early next year. The dig was filmed by Derry based TV company 360 Production.