A fundraising dinner at Hemswell Court has raised more than £25,000 towards the £120,000 needed to bring a life-size Lancaster Bomber landmark to life on the Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire border.
Organised by law firm Fraser Brown Solicitors, the black-tie event was supporting the Bomber County Gateway Trust.
This registered charity is led by a group of passionate volunteers whose sole aim is to make the sculpture a reality to mark the significant aviation history the two counties shared during the Second World War.
The project, called ‘On Freedom’s Wings’, has so far been made possible by corporate and public donations, and the sculpture will be taller than the Angel of the North.
The life-size representation of a Lancaster bomber will be erected on high ground just off the A46 at Norton Disney, visible to an estimated 34,000 motorists every day.
Guest of honour on the night was legendary Dambuster George “Johnny” Johnson MBE, DFM, who treated guests to a Q&A session with BBC Radio Lincolnshire presenter Melvyn Prior where he recounted stories of his time as a flying member of the 617 Squadron, completing more than 50 missions during the Second World War.
The evening included an online live auction via online auctioneer John Pye Auctions, with a collection of highly anticipated lots.
These included an original oil painting of BBMF and Canadian Lancasters on their 2014 tour by renowned artist Tim O’Brien and signed by Mr Johnson, which sold for £1,150 on the night.
The auction also included the scale metal model of the proposed Lancaster bomber landmark, which was signed by Mr Johnson.
The unique model, which was previously used for displays and planning permission discussions, was sold in the online auction for more than £8,000.
Other lots included an authentic signed bomber jacket, which sold for more than £2,000, a VIP tour of the Red Arrows at their RAF Scampton base for £1,562 and a virtual flight simulator experience in a Lancaster and Tornado F3 for £420.
Ken Sadler, chairman of the Bomber County Gateway Trust, said: “It was a fantastic evening and to have raised more than £25,000 is incredible, it will go a long way in progressing with the sculpture.
“So far, the foundations are in, the drawings are in progress and the next step will be erecting the steel frame over the summer.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who made the evening possible and to everyone who continues to donate to this project.”
John Tansur, commercial director at Fraser Brown Solicitors and event organiser, said: “It was very fitting that the event took place at Hemswell Court, the location for much of the filming of the 1955 Dambusters film and a stone’s throw away from RAF Scampton.
“I’d like to say thank you to George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, for being our guest of honour and throwing his support behind the Lancaster bomber landmark, and to everyone who donated items for the auction and helped in organising a wonderful evening.”
Donations towards the sculpture are still welcome and can be made via the JustGiving website: www.justgiving.com/bomber countygatewaytrust
Alternatively, cheques can be made payable to ‘Bomber County Gateway Trust’ and sent to: Bomber County Gateway Trust, Hill Holt Farm, Norton Disney, LN6 9JP.