When photographer and friend of the Trust Greg Esson captured some remarkable shots of lighting strikes around the National Memorial to the Few, it sparked a great fund-raising idea.
Greg, whose stunning images have been sold and auctioned to help the Trust in the past, created a unique print which he decided to ask current RAF Lightning crew members to sign, along with former Trust President and English Electric Lightning pilot Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon.
The Secretary of the Trust, Gp Capt. Patrick Tootal, and Trustee Wg Cdr Andy Simpson then decided to take the initiative even further. With the Lockheed Martin F35B entering RAF service as the Lightning II, they approached Gp Capt. James Beck, the Station Commander at RAF Marham, to see if some additional signatures could be obtained.
Gp Capt. Beck, who has been associated with the F35 since the early days of the project, invited Gp Capt. Tootal, Wg Cdr Simpson and photographer Greg to RAF Marham, now the home of the F35, and arranged for the Officers Commanding the RAF’s two current F35 Squadrons to sign the photograph as well as signing it himself.
Wg Cdr John Butcher commands 617 Squadron, the first RAF F35 squadron, and Wg Cdr Scott Williams commands 207 Squadron, which has the role of training F35 crew members. After the signing, Greg presented Gp Capt. Beck with a copy of the photograph, which will be hung in the Officers’ Mess at RAF Marham.
During the visit, Gp Capt. Beck showed the group around the station, allowing them to see how the almost 100 year-old airfield is being transformed to accommodate the very latest in aviation technology.
“The Trust is grateful to Greg for his continuing support and to the Lightning crews past and present who have signed this photograph and made it unique, not only for the image but for the signatures it carries,” said Wg Cdr Simpson.
“Lightning, in this case, struck more than once:
- At the site for Greg to get the image
- From the pens of ACM Sir Michael Graydon and his colleagues of the former Lightning force
- From the pens of the three senior RAF F35 pilots of the current Lightning II force”
The framed photograph will be auctioned at a gala dinner to be held at the RAF Club on October 15 2019, in aid of the Trust and the work it does to maintain the National Memorial to the Few at Capel-le-Ferne.