THE Army Flying Museum (AFM) received its royal seal of approval on Friday (24 May) when HRH Prince Michael of Kent officially opened the Museum after a £2.59million, five-month redevelopment project.
Dignitaries from across the military world including Deputy Lieutenant Air Vice Marshal Paul Luker, Museum Chairman, Sir Gary Coward, Lord Richard Dannatt, Lord Mike Walker, Lieutenant General Richard Felton and Brigadier Mike Keating came to the Museum for the celebration which was topped off with a fly-past from an Apache and historic aircraft.
During the celebration Sir Gary praised the efforts of the team behind Project Eagle – the project to deliver the new look Museum.
“We are delighted with the result and we hope that you are too,” he said.
Prince Michael said: “What a joy it is to come back to the Museum.
“It is, of course, the only Museum dedicated to the history of Army flying and tells a very important story
“I’m very pleased that Sir Gary (Coward, Museum Chairman) and his team of trustees, staff and volunteers have managed to complete what is in effect the complete transformation of the Museum.
“The volunteers and staff deserve unlimited credit.”
Awards were then presented by Prince Michael to three volunteers at the Museum, Alistair Mellor, Carolyn Brocklehurst and Ben Cartwright, who had gone to exceptional lengths to help ensure the project was delivered.
Special recognition was also given to the Museum Curator, Susan Lindsay, who had, according to CEO Chris Munns, “Set the highest standard for interpretation, and worked tirelessly over many months to achieve it.”
To mark her ‘outstanding contribution’ to the project the Museum’s brand new archive will be named the Lindsay Archive.
Susan said: “The dedication was a complete surprise.
“The new museum is based on ideas that have been thought about for several years.
“The change has happened due to the hard work of staff and volunteers and those who have supported the museum.”
The funding for the re-development plan came from a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, and was matched by a further £900,000 raised by the Museum itself, bringing the total project costs to nearly £3million.
The project focused on the expansion and modernisation of the Museum’s archive which contains a matchless record of Army flying exploits, and a complete update and reinterpretation of its unique collection.
The AFM is the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the internationally significant story of British Army flying. The museum's unique location allows visitors to see Army aircraft in action, and tells stories of famous operations, from daring glider landings at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy on the eve of D-Day to operations in Suez, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The project, which is set to secure the future of the Museum for generations to come, aims to get people involved with discovering and re-engaging with the stories of British Army flying - stories of courage, comradeship and innovation.
Featuring an important three-year community, educational and volunteer programme, there is also a new learning and schools programme, oral history project, pop up museum, internship programme, and kids club on site.