31.07.2015 WINGS AND A WEDDING AT RIAT
Keith Bayliss, chairman of FSDP, welcomed scholars, their families and guests, and the awards were presented in the presence of FSDP Patron HRH Prince Faisal of Jordan and Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Chief of the Air Staff.
The limelight was stolen, however, by Roo Whiter from West Yorkshire who added a wedding proposal to the ceremony. Roo, 41, received his wings then took the microphone and asked girlfriend Linda Hales to marry him . . . and everyone present was delighted to hear her say: ‘Yes’.
This year 15 scholarships were awarded, giving scholars the chance to learn to fly at four centres in England and one in San Diego, California. Certificates and fleeces were presented to Kevin Plowman, Paul Stares, George Adaway, Adam Lovegrove, Ray Davis, Emma Dobson, Ross Proctor, Saavik Ray, Mark Barnett, Kevin Ogilvie, Tim Clare, Clive Osborn, Joanne Kay, Bethany Colburn and Peter David.
Eleven of the 2014 scholars were also present to receive their wings: they were Adam Stone, John Marsh, Piers Quinn, Kevin Geals, Dan Cooper, Roo Whiter, Haden Kingsland, Amanda Edmunds, Paul May, Carolyne Sibley-Harris, and Sherrill Semple.
Another of the 2014 scholars, Josie Cichockyj, had won her wings but everyone at FSDP was saddened when Josie, who was born with spina bifida, died last year: her wings were accepted by her friend Sandra Johnston in her memory.
The George Stewart Memorial Trophy, presented to the scholar who’s achieved the most as a result of being awarded a scholarship, was awarded to Paul May.
Paul, from Newport in South Wales, has now completed several solo flights and at the time of the Air Tattoo was just five hours away from achieving his Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). “I had no idea I was receiving the trophy,” he said, “it was a great honour.”
He added: “The scholarship has changed my life as, without it, I would never have left my house. Today I am helping at the Flying Club, and I hope I can push on to become a flying instructor.”
The Wings around the World Trophy, for the woman who’s achieved the most from the flight training experience, was jointly awarded to Carolyne Sibley-Harris and Sherrill Semple.
The two scholars only met at the selection panel at RAF Cranwell and have become firm friends through their joint experiences.
Carolyne said: “We quickly teamed up, and we were paired for training at the same flying school at the same time. I call Sherrill my wingman, and we’ve both now flown solo. To win the trophy between us is perfection.”
Sherrill added: “I was sure Carolyne would win it, and she thought I would, so to share the honour between us is brilliant.”
And the Douglas Bader Trophy, awarded to the scholar who had contributed most to FSDP, went to Steve Robinson.
Steve, from Yorkshire, gained his PPL just last week. He said: “I was totally shocked, and overcome by emotion to win the trophy. I wanted to fly but kept coming up against obstacles, until eventually I decided to jump through all the hoops. I was told I couldn’t fly because I’d lost an arm and the NHS prosthetics weren’t up to holding the controls, so I built my own arm, passed two medicals and then won an FSDP scholarship to fulfil my dream. I do a lot of work raising the profile of the charity with motivational speaking and tv appearances, and I imagine that’s why I’ve won.”
CAPTION: from left, FSDP’s Polly Vacher, HRH Prince Faisal of Jordan, Sherrill Semple and Carolyne Sibley-Harris with the Wings Around the World Trophy, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Chief of the Air Staff.
RIAT Flying Scholarships for Disabled People was inaugurated in 1983, in memory of Gp Capt Sir Douglas Bader, and is dedicated to helping disabled people discover their true potential through learning to fly. For more information visit www.fsfdp.org.uk.