David Higham

I originally hail from Southport in the north-west of England and have a varied background with experience in finance, audit and general management in both small and large industrial and commercial business sectors.

For the last 16 years of a career that has spanned 50 years, I was involved with the Royal International Air Tattoo – latterly as Finance Director as well as having overall responsibility for RAFCTE’s trading activities, including mail order and publications. Since my retirement in 2013, I have been a RIAT volunteer and, in 2014, became the editor of RIAT’s annual souvenir programme.

I am a keen photographer (mainly not involving aircraft!) and in 2015 was asked to help with photography at the FSDP scholars’ annual ceremony during the RIAT show weekend. Soon after, in 2017, I became an FSDP Trustee and am now also the charity’s current Safeguarding Officer.

Thus far, I have found the Trustee role to be most rewarding – experiencing and seeing first hand many tangible benefits for scholars at every stage during their annual FSDP inspirational journey.

During RIAT’s ‘gap year’ in 2021, I assisted, as editor, with the production of the 300 page heavily illustrated book celebrating 50 years of the International Air Tattoo.

I am married with 3 children and have 7 grandchildren. I live with my wife Shirley in Calne in Wiltshire. In addition to my love of photography, my other interests include watching sport, reading, music and DIY.

Oli Delany

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.

In the intervening years, I have 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’.


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.

Ben Bennett

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.

Ian Revell

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.

Tony Cann

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 now serve 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, accepting the role was a simple decision. I hope to continue the great work of all those who have been and continue to be involved in this amazing enterprise.

Rebecca Giddings

In 2017 I was awarded a scholarship with Flying Scholarships for Disabled People, I started to learn to
fly. I took that incredible feeling of freedom that flying brings and started to turn my life and metal
health around. This was a new beginning for me, it was time to take back control, it was time for me
to stop looking backwards and trying to get back to who I was and to start looking forward to what I
could be.

Since my scholarship, I have restarted work on my PhD, taken up archery and started singing lessons,
I have even sung at my first public gig. FSDP gave me the strength to face the fact that my life was
never going to go back to what it was and helped me to realise that was ok, I didn’t need to go
backwards. Having to retire at 33, when my career was such a huge part of my life had a massive
impact on my self-worth, I honestly felt like I was useless and on the scrap heap. My scholarship gave
me the confidence to look forward to my future and to realise that I could still make a massive
difference. When I am not in hospital I use my time to raise awareness of invisible illness and in
particular Ehlers Danlos, I have written for global online blogs, been part of awareness videos and
even been a calendar girl, showing the younger generation that it is ok to be different.

FSDP is so close to my heart because of what they did for me and how much they helped me
that I wanted to give something back. So I started to fundraise for them and have managed to secure
funding for 3 scholarships. I am also extremely proud that in 2019, I was appointed as an FSDP
trustee. I am really looking forward to seeing the difference the scholarships can make in others.


I’m John Marriott, I’m a retired airline captain and a flight safety representative of the Ex British Airline Pilots Association. I teach students from my base at Turweston Flying Club, and have been doing so for 35 years now! I’m also a glider pilot, and most importantly an amateur magician (although I try to limit my tricks to the ground!)

Debra Ford

I grew up overlooking Filton airfield, witnessing with my dad, the first British Concorde take off at the age of seven. No wonder then that I always dreamt of learning to fly. At University the Air Squadron wasn’t open to women so I had to save up to pay for flying lessons. I gained my pilots licence in 1990 and my dad was my first passenger! A few years later I went on to gain my Commercial Pilot’s licence and completed my flying instructor rating at RAF Brize Norton. My passion is sharing the joy of flight and making aviation inclusive to everyone. Aviation was not that inclusive when I started and that’s something I wanted to help change. My involvement with FSDP started around 15 years ago when Bristol Aero Club became involved with providing flying training for an ex FSDP scholar looking to complete their licence. I found the tailored training that FSDP scholars require incredibly rewarding and the results inspiring. Each scholar has different goals and I enjoy adapting my instructing to ensure they achieve them. It’s fabulous to watch scholar’s self-confidence grow as they take control of the aircraft and actually fly and I get an immense sense of pride in helping each scholar reach their full potential. This charity truly changes lives, it has provided me with many new friendships, and I hope to be involved for many more years!

Liz Fox

FSDP has been a big part of my life since joining the team in 2010. I was a Medical Officer in the RAF for 10 years, then a GP in the NHS for 20 years, and I now work in a Children’s Hospice in Cornwall. One of life’s joys has been learning to fly, and now even more to see the fulfilment and happiness that flying brings to the scholars at FSDP. The FSDP family is just that, and it is a privilege to be part of such a supportive, caring and friendly charity, that really does change all of our lives for the better, building lifelong friendships through the medium of flight and shared love of flying.

Angus Hickish

The nicest things in life generally happen by coincidence. I met Fiona Luckhurst in 2018 when I decided I ought to have some flying lessons and enrolled with her flying school; I’d been a General Practitioner and Aeromedical Examiner for many years but up till then had never had the time. Fiona has, of course, been involved with FSDP for many years. She introduced me to Dr Liz Fox who kindly invited me to help out with the selection process at RAF Cranwell in Spring 2019. There, I met so many inspiring people; some were achieving great things and reaching heights they had not imagined possible, some were helping others to do this and some (in fact probably most) were doing both. I am privileged to have become involved with FSDP.

Tim Prince

In 1979 fellow air trafficker Paul Bowen and I decided to make the annual Air Tattoo our full- time careers having been involved since its inception in 1971. In 1983 following the death of our volunteer Air Tattoo president Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader the year before, the Air Tattoo team established Flying Scholarships for the Disabled in his memory given all he had done for us over the years. I retired from the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2014 and became an honorary vice patron. At the same time, I became a vice patron of the now FSFDP. So many years of working with wonderfully upbeat and determined people who usually find a way to make things happen, often against all odds! TP

Viv Case

Hi, I have been a volunteer with FSDP for 8 years, helping to plan and deliver the Presentation Ceremony held during the Royal International Air Tattoo each year at RAF Fairford. On retiring from the Royal Air Force after 19 years’ service as an Air Traffic Control Officer, I wanted to continue my association with the flying community. Joining FSDP has allowed me to do just that. They have encouraged me to draw on my previous experience, but also to work outside my comfort zone in completing assignments. I live close to the FSDP office popping in when called. I also help at the Scholars Seminar where I have the opportunity to meet and greet new scholars, whilst sharing news with those colleagues who also attend as part of the team. My daughter Abi helps as a volunteer, we are both always amazed and proud to hear about the achievement of the FSDP scholars who have all overcome so many obstacles in their lives and then have been inspired to learn to fly with FSDP. If you want a worthwhile charity to support in whatever way you can, the FSDP family will welcome and cherish you as it has us.

Lou Buckley

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!

Mel White

I have been in aerospace throughout my career, first with Hawker Siddley, then in suppliers to the major airframers. The last 20 years have been spent in the airborne special role equipment, mainly for helicopters. I was very fortunate to also be a company pilot for 15 years and flew throughout Europe on business, so I fully understand the freedom that flight brings and the benefits to scholars in achieving their wings. I have since 2001 been involved in candidate selection of scholars, my goal has always been twofold, firstly to help put candidates at their ease during the interview process, and secondly, establish the benefits the candidate would gain from being awarded a scholarship.

Frances Lawrence

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.

Tricia Nelmes

I first got involved with FSDP many years ago fundraising with BWPA friends. I was a trustee for seven years and, as a former instructor myself, I now head up our instructor committee which is a forum for all the flying schools involved with teaching our scholars to get together and to compare notes. Each year I try to visit as many scholars as I can while on their courses and I just love seeing the smiles on their faces as they get to grips with the challenges of learning to fly and realise what they can achieve. Those of us who fly have all been there and know what it feels like!