The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) has until the end of the year to hit its fundraising target of £2.2 million needed to secure a mortgage and build a new home for Avro Vulcan XH558.
The charity has until December 31 to raise the monies needed to take the legacy of the charity’s founder and former CEO, Dr Robert Pleming, who died in February this year, a step closer to reality and secure the future of one of the last icons of British aviation history.
Michael Trotter, business development director, at The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) said: “We have made some great progress on the plans for The Vulcan Experience to deliver a fitting legacy for Robert, our figurehead from the project’s inception.
“The charity has always had two guiding principles, to honour those who served us in the past and to inspire future generations to make meaningful change in the world. The Vulcan Experience will embody those guiding principles in a memorable and unique centre.
“We now have an Agreement for Lease, which will become a full legal lease for the hangar once the funding is in place and this is supported by an operations agreement that will allow access to the airfield for tours, including our popular engine ground runs.
“We have worked collaboratively with DSA since 2012 and specifically on the new hangar plan since 2017. We all want to see XH558 under cover in a dedicated hangar bringing visitors to the area and inspiring future generations. We now have just weeks to raise the money needed for this rescue mission to secure the future of this important national heritage asset.
“XH558 has been without cover for several years due to a lack of funding. In support of the project DSA acquired land to facilitate the new hangar three and a half years ago with a reasonable expectation that funding for a purpose-built hangar would follow soon thereafter. DSA has waited patiently for us to raise the money needed and provided a home for XH588 free of charge for over three years. VTST has now taken the decision that it must either secure the funds to build the facility or relinquish its option on the land.
“The build costs for the hangar have now been fully reviewed as the original quotation was made four and a half years ago; the cost for the building now stands at £4.6m. This is due to the increasing costs of materials, not least the rise in steel prices.
“This presents us with a huge challenge. While we are continuing our negotiation for a mortgage of up to £2.4 million to help us to build The Vulcan Experience, the increased costs mean that we can no longer ring fence the £500,000 that we had allocated from the Names under the Wings campaign of 2019/20 towards Operation Safeguard.”
The Operation Safeguard campaign to date has delivered a quarter of a million pounds through public donations and the 558 Executive Alliance.
Michael added: “While this demonstrates the continued support for XH558 some five years after she was grounded, it still leaves a huge funding gap and fundraising in the middle of a pandemic has had a significant impact. This could be the toughest battle Vulcan has faced yet, coupled with the untimely passing of Robert.
“This is a huge ask. We need to raise the funding in weeks to enable us to build the hangar and to get XH558 undercover. We are calling on people from across the country with an interest in heritage, aviation and the Climate Challenge to get behind this project and help us to create a venue that will inspire generations for decades to come, and through our Green Technology Hub investigate solutions to greener travel.”
This will be a first phase of the project and will secure a permanent home for XH558, an asset of national importance, and importantly enable access for people to share both her story and that of the V-Force.
People can support the campaign by adding a name to the aircraft and contributing to the Trust’s work to build the new hangar creating a brighter future for heritage aircraft preservation, restoration and operation.
Names will be added permanently under the delta-wing of Vulcan XH558, on the bomb bay doors and undercarriage doors for a donation of £50, and on other designated areas for a donation of £30. Each dedication comes with a personalised certificate that acts as a commemorative receipt for the requested donation.
Each donation will also be treated as a contribution to Operation Safeguard and, as such, donors will also see their names feature on exhibits in the new hangar as well as membership of the Vulcan Guardians scheme. If you would like to donate for yourself, a friend or in Memoriam please visit the Operation Safeguard page
Businesses can support via the Vulcan 558 Executive Alliance – a membership group open to businesses from across the UK. Any company that joins the Executive Alliance will, in return for sponsorship, receive a package of benefits including having their name displayed on a dedicated members’ wall in the new hangar.