I have recently retired as an Air Traffic Control Watch Manager at Manchester Airport after over 35 years as a controller, including managing the Royal International Air Tattoo’s volunteer Air Traffic Control team at RAF Fairford. I continue to work with the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, delivering Aerospace training through the Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course.
Having had close links with FSDP for many years during my time at RIAT, I was appointed as a Trustee in May 2019. As a keen Private Pilot, I look forward to the challenges of working with the charity and furthering it’s aims to challenge and inspire scholars.
I was awarded a scholarship in 2005 at a time in my life when I desperately needed a big boost, having recently taken ill health retirement from a job that I loved in the aerospace industry. Ever since then I have been a mentor and a trustee and it’s been a huge privilege to be involved in giving others the amazing aviation opportunities that I experienced myself.
Witnessing much needed smiles return to faces and some great friendships develop over the past 15 years, not to mention many individuals developing significantly higher levels of confidence and self-esteem has been very special and something I’ll never forget.
Helen’s story to follow…
While busy working as a physiotherapist my partner Richard rarely rang me at work and that was usually with difficult news from his oncology appointments.
Then one day, mid clinic, a call came that was as far from those as it’s possible to imagine… he’d just flown solo and was literally crying with joy.
The challenge of learning to fly brought back so much fulfilment, self esteem, excitement and pride to what turned out to be Richard’s final months.
Having volunteered for several years in the FSDP medical team and more recently as a trustee, I am honoured to play my part helping others rediscover their very best versions of themselves.
I am a former Royal Marines Commando who managed to win gold at the Invictus Games after overcoming my spinal injury. My career was short lived when I was involved in a road traffic accident which left me paralysed resulting in me being a fulltime wheelchair user with limited use of my body.
I’m a 2008 solar, I went out to 43 Air School Port Elizabeth South Africa for PPL training with FSDP. I stayed on to make it 55 hours self funded. It was the best time of my life.
I then achieved a UK PPL with Aerobility out of Tatenhill.
At the moment I fly out of Liverpool John Lennon with Ravenair. I have over 300 hours, IR (R) Night rating and a Balloon PPL 🎈(not that I get the chance to use it). I use a PA28 with a rudder hand control. I also flew the Grob Able from Germany to the UK last year. A very lovely aircraft 😎👍
Adam’s bio will be with us soon
I was delighted to become a Trustee in September 2022 having been involved directly or indirectly with the charity since just after it began. I worked from 1985 as PA to the Co-Founder and Director of International Air Tattoo (IAT), Paul Bowen, and it was my first ever job! It was certainly a massive learning curve but I was excited to be around aeroplanes and amazing people! I even managed to persuade both my parents to become volunteers for several of the airshows and join the IAT family! As part of my role, I was involved in supporting the scholarship selection process and the actual scholarships themselves. The FSDP was in its infancy but from the very beginning was achieving amazing results in changing people’s lives.
Apart from working for two periods for the IAT (!), I have worked in the computer training industry and, in the past twenty years, in health & social care in both general management and operational management roles. I currently work as Operations Director for a retirement village business and this role also gives me the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives.
I live in Gloucestershire and have two grown up girls who both live in Birmingham. Apart from aviation, my other interest is narrowboats, and I am fortunate enough to have a boat moored at Droitwich Spa from where I can explore the country … slowly … as the boat travels at a maximum of 4 mph! Other interests include cooking, reading, travel and spending time with friends and family.
Ross is going to send a bio in very soon!
I joined FSDP in March 2020, 3 days before the first lockdown! This meant that I was unable to bear witness to a scholarship for my entire first year, but learnt all about them through speaking to ex-scholars and hearing their inspirational stories. I used to run an Ultra Marathon company and a pre-pitched camping and glamping company, so events and organisation are in my blood. I’m very much looking forward to the new challenges that FSDP will offer me, and can’t wait to meet everyone in person!
When I was a trustee of the RAF Charitable Trust, we started sponsoring scholars in 2006 and I would attend the annual presentation ceremony at RIAT. I greatly admired the inspiring stories told by so many of the scholars and could readily see how FSDP was indeed changing lives through the medium of flight. Consequently, I was delighted to become a FSDP trustee in 2014.
During my years as a Turstee, I learned that the catalyst for change, fundamental though it is, is not just the flying. Rather it is the whole process starting with the initial application all the way through to the presentation of ‘Wings’. Each step along the way plays a part with lessons learned, achievements logged, staunch friendships made and self-confidence soaring. Those who then make the same commitment, to that which has carried them through the scholarship, to all other areas of their lives are the ones who benefit most.
The special ingredient that sustains those scholars is remaining in touch with FSDP and fellow scholars. They have the constant reminder of their achievements and all the evidence that they need that they can be, and do. so much more.
So I look forward to meeting you again through “The Big Wing’.
I began working as a volunteer in the office in May 2004 and until the virus put paid to my attendance did so regularly. My task was to do basic office jobs freeing up the one paid worker for more involved activities. I worked at first with Sue Whitby then with Julie Bull and hopefully, will before long see more of you.
Since we started seminars I have very much enjoyed being part of those days. In Sue’s time I was also giving talks on the charity.
Seeing applicants journeys from the initial enquiry, through selection, to their training has made working for the charity really rewarding for me, I have been proud to take a small part.
My interested in aviation comes from my having been a Catering Officer in (what was then) the WRAF – but in those days you left on marriage! I did spend 33 more years as an RAF wife.
I count myself very lucky in a 30 year RAF career to have flown some wonderful aircraft and worked around the world with some even more wonderful and inspiring people. A while ago my brother-in-law benefited so much from the award of a scholarship and this inspired me to get involved with the charity, initially as an aircraft assessor to help work out what assistance or modifications our scholars may need in order to fly light aircraft.
I am honoured to have served as a trustee for FSDP; having met so many even more wonderful and inspiring scholars and volunteers, all completely committed to changing people’s lives. I hope to continue the great work of all those who have been before, and continue to be involved in this amazing enterprise.
FSDP is special to me in so many ways. I feel very privileged to be able to play a part in the selection of scholars each year, and then watch them go on to accomplish a flying scholarship.
The transformation they go through from Cranwell to the Air Tattoo is amazing to witness, and I know that Paul, like me, would be incredibly proud.
My name is Kerry Ann Shaw. I am a 2017 scholar and I was extremely lucky to be sponsored by my favourite flying team, the Red Arrows. I love flying, when I get the opportunity to get up in the air. It’s a good feeling, very exhilarating and truly amazing.
I have six children and two grandchildren which keep me extremely busy. I also have two adorable dogs, Bertie and Floki. I love the outdoors and meeting new people, and I enjoy many different crafts and learning something new. Most of all I love to volunteer and give back to others.
After suffering an accident in 2009 leaving me paralysed, I fought hard to try and rebuild my life and gain some sense of independence and purpose. Having a love of flying I was amazed to discover that it was possible for a wheelchair user to learn how to fly a plane. I applied for a scholarship with FSDP and was extremely fortunate to be offered mine in 2017.
It is an incredible experience and introduced me to an amazing team of people who run and guide through the application process and scholarship making great friends with the team and fellow scholars.
I am now studying a BA in History and Politics with the Open University and am very privileged to assist as a mentor for new applicants to FSDP, helping new candidates through the application process and sharing in the amazing experiences of the journey of a FSDP scholarship.
My mane is Alvin and I live in the West Midlands with my wife and 2 children. I enjoy playing the drums and love being a family man.
I lost my leg in a motorcycle accident which totally changed my life. I ended up losing my job and my home and became bankrupt. For a few years I really struggled to rebuild my life while retraining in a new career.
I was concerned that, because my children came along after the crash, they would only see me as a disabled Dad, as they see me at my most vulnerable and weakest.
I came across the FSDP and as I had always had a dream of flying, I applied for a scholarship and thought how wonderful it could be that my kids might see me as somebody who can land a plane… rather than somebody who sometimes needs crutches.
I was incredibly fortunate to have been awarded my scholarship in 2019 and those three weeks changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I have a newfound confidence which I have been able to use in my career and I have even done a little bit of motivational talking for a corporate company.
I am now very excited to be a mentor and assist the new lucky candidates through their FSDP journey. I am also a Volunteer Visitor for the Limbless Association.
Joining the Armed Forces at 18 years of age, I served a number of Tours and Conflicts. Unfortunately, age 33, in Iraq in 2003, I was taken out. Brought back to life 3 times, amongst other injuries I suffered the loss of my left leg above the knee. Everything I had dreamt of accomplishing went out the window. However, two charities came forward and showed me that was not the case. FSDP came into my life in the middle of the pandemic and despite all the pitfalls of lockdowns and working from home, I was offered a scholarship with them.
It was a turning point in my life when I needed it most. I started learning to fly, something I had always dreamt of, but most importantly mixing with other people with other disabilities and a great team leading the charity. FSDP is now a huge part of my life as I look forward to being a mentor for other disabled people, showing them life really does go on.
For now, with the help of a military charity I am able to continue to learn to fly and hope to achieve my PPL in the next year.