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Support and Grants

Below you will find details of projects and educational grants that The Spitfire Society has awarded. For donations to new upcoming and on-going projects for support, more information can be found by clicking here.

Without your donations, we would not be able to continue in supporting new and exciting projects through education, research and preservation for future generations.

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The Spitfire Society Award - 2021-2025 Update

The Spitfire Society Award will provide financial support to high-achieving students on the University of Southampton MEng Aeronautics and Astronautics/Aerodynamics degree. This support can help students to purchase relevant books and equipment needed to undertake their course, and can often mean that a student will not have to undertake a part-time job alongside their studies. This will prove invaluable to the award recipients who can then focus the majority of their time on obtaining a good degree.

Samuel Hinchcliffe - 2023

I'm starting my third year studying Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Southampton, focusing on Spacecraft Engineering. In the coming week I will be leaving the UK and travelling to the USA to start a semester studying at the Pennsylvania State University.

I would like to thank the Spitfire Society enormously for their continued support for students like me, as this generous award will allow me to focus on my studies and hobbies (playing for my ice-hockey team coincidently named the Southampton Spitfires!) for my final two years of university, without having to worry about working alongside them. Specifically, it will enable me to purchase the technology required to run FEA analysis without having to rely on the University machines in the library. This will help hugely with an FEA module I am undertaking in the US, as well as with my simulation-based independent project back in Southampton as I can complete work from home as well as on campus.

Oliver Littlewood - 2022

"I am very grateful to The Spitfire Society for awarding me this incredibly generous educational grant which will enhance my final two years of study at the University of Southampton.

Having finished my second year, I am now completing a 13-month industrial placement working for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team as a CFD Aerodynamicist IP. The past month has been a blur getting up to speed with all the internal tools and methodologies used to bring performance to our car, but I am loving it. I specifically work as part of the mid car group where my main role involves improving correlation between our CFD results and the real-life testing. I have yet to choose my third-year modules but after this experience I am certain that they will continue to lean towards aerodynamics and computational methods – the original reason I chose this course.

Despite the rather short break between the end of term and starting my placement, I was lucky enough to see the Battle of Britain Memorial flight at RIAT 2022, where the iconic Spitfire sound was brought by MK356, an awesome sight!"

Laura Brady - 2021

“Firstly, I would like to thank everyone at the Spitfire Society for their support to students at the University of Southampton. This bursary will help to support me through the final two years of my Aeronautics and Astronautics course, to buy textbooks and to travel to aerospace events. The main reason I chose to study at Southampton was that I'm able to do Spacecraft Engineering as my degree theme, allowing me to specialise in the topics I'm most passionate about. So far, I have achieved 82.3% in both years of my studies, and I've really enjoyed my modules - in particular, learning about propulsion, coding (Python and C++) and astronautics. Over the following year, I will be involved in designing a liquid rocket engine and a CanSat alongside other students at the university.”

The Spitfire Society Award - 2021/2022 Update

The Spitfire Society Annual Report

Alfie Lockrey

“A massive thank you is owed to The Spitfire Society and their generosity in awarding this bursary to students at the University of Southampton. I originally chose to study at Southampton due to the unique selection of courses and modules surrounding spacecraft and the engineering that drives them, however, while studying in first and second year, I found out I had a much larger interest in manufacturing and materials and chose to change the theme of my studies from spacecraft engineering to materials and structures. In my third year I studied a collection of more mechanical optional modules such as Aircraft Structures and Finite Element Analysis in Solid Mechanics alongside the more general modules such as Aerothermodynamics, Aerospace Control Design and Aircraft Structural Design. Alongside these modules I participated in the student led FSAE team where I expanded my knowledge within the Motor and Inverter department as well as spent time working with manual machinery within the workshop on parts for the car. At the end of the year, I achieved an average mark of 86.7% with a mark of 82% in my individual project titled ‘An evaluation of adhesive contact models for elastic solids using atomic force microscopy’. I look forward to my fourth and final year where I have further chosen to study a collection of more mechanical modules covering manufacturing, materials, composites, and spacecraft instruments and where I have formed a group for the Group Design Project in which we hope to design and maybe even build and test a light gas gun for testing the effectiveness of physical shielding designed to mitigate the effects of space debris and the collisions that it can cause.”

RAF Wittering Families Day 2021

The Spitfire Society is delighted to announce a £500 grant towards a families day event at RAF Wittering in August 2021.  You can find out more about the work of RAF Wittering at https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisation/stations/raf-wittering/

The Spitfire Society Award - 2019/2020 Update

The Spitfire Society Annual Report
2019-2020 Internship with Scuderia Alpha Tauri (SAT)

Tom Griffiths

Firstly, I hope everyone is well and safe during this difficult time. The current situation has caused Formula One to shut down for the previous two months with the hope of returning to work for the start of June with the first race being held at Austria in early July.

Whilst with SAT, I have been working within the team’s Front Wing group for the 2020 car, developing across the wing getting involved with all aspects of the design process. I have become familiar with the process of taking a desirable aerodynamic feature, developing one of the devices available on the Front Wing in CAD, sending this design to CFD to initially analyse the relative success of it, and then, if successful, sending this computer modelled component to be designed and modelled which is then placed upon the wind tunnel model of our challenger. Usually a small family of a single developed component is sent to the on-site tunnel, which I have had experience operating over the course of my placement, as well as being involved in reporting the results from across the car helping gain knowledge of the whole car’s aerodynamic package. If a particular component shows promise in the tunnel, it is flagged in the reporting and then considered to be sent for release for the race car. 

So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement year and am eager to get back to work when able to do so. I have met some fantastic people at SAT and am truly gratefully as to how the Front Wing group have taken me on. Going into my placement I did not expect to be as involved in the car development as I have been. I thought my development would be very localised to one specific car area so to work across the Front Wing in such early stages of my career has been an honour. That being said, I look forward to returning to University next year and completing my studies. Thank you to The Spitfire Society for your generous support of my studies and I will look forward to updating you on my final academic year.  

The Spitfire Society Annual Report 2020 –Thomas Preskett

Firstly, may I once again say how grateful I am to receive this support from The Spitfire Society, your support through this bursary is much appreciated during these unprecedented times. This bursary has provided great help supporting my study and living costs. Whilst at university textbooks are crucial for providing additional information to support studies, and through this bursary I am able to make sure I have all the text books required thus helping to improve my ability to learn. This bursary will also enable me, once global conditions allow travel again, to travel to museums and aviation related events. My main hobby is plane spotting and I have a massive interest in aviation history and by visiting museums and aircraft collections I am able to increase my background knowledge. I feel this will also help my future career as by looking at past designs whether successful or a failure lessons can be learnt that will aid the design of future projects with it being possible to incorporate design features into future designs.

As I approach the end of my third year at the University of Southampton I thought I would take this opportunity to update you on what I have studied this year. This year I have studied a wide variety of modules starting in the first semester with aerospace control design, aerothermodynamics and experimental methods to aerodynamics. During the current second semester I have been studying wing aerodynamics, introduction to aircraft design and aircraft structural design. For me this year aerothermodynamics has been the most interesting, the generation of shock waves and the interactions of such waves provide great interest. Combined with this the study of finite difference methods enabled me to understand the theory of computer packages to prevent poor results and better understand the results generated. 

Alongside my modules throughout the year I have been undertaking a project of which the written report forms my thesis for my degree. This project has been a very interesting project working with Farnborough Air Science Trust (FAST) to develop an outreach and education programme to increase the uptake of STEM subjects while also providing resources for schools that want to experience hands on aerodynamics. This project has involved the use of an early 20th century wind tunnel with a custom built aerofoil over which the pressure distribution can be measured and displayed using a digital output. This will provide FAST with a unique capability to educate the future generation and increase the interest in aerodynamics.

Second semester has been a more challenging semester with the university closing in early March due to COVID-19 so lectures are now being carried out from home. This has caused some challenges working without the ability to ask questions face to face, which makes it sometimes difficult to overcome problems, however lecturers are working hard to help us. Lectures have been conducted from past years recordings while questions can be asked using online tools. The university have adapted fast to the changing situation with the world of Microsoft Teams and online lectures becoming the temporary solution. 

Next year will see me enter the final year of my undergraduate degree with things hopefully returning to at least a new normal which will see me return to Southampton to undertake my final year modules. These modules have not yet been chosen however as my degree involves me specialising in aerodynamics, these will likely include high temperature gas dynamics, turbulence, and race car aerodynamics. As part of next year’s studies I will undertake a group design project design to help with the development of the skills required for working in groups for design projects in industry. This project forms one third of my final year classification. 

Once again thank you all for providing support to me through this bursary and wish you all good health in the coming months as we hopefully return to normal. 

East Grinstead Mayor Danny Favor presents cheque from The Spitfire Society to QVH Charity on 10 March 2020.

Queen Victoria Hospital - 2020

East Grinstead Mayor Danny Favor presents cheque from The Spitfire Society to QVH Charity on 10 March 2020. This was based on funds raised from the Battle of Britain film festival held at Chequer Mead Theatre in East Grinstead on Sunday 15 September 2019.

Many thanks to the event sponsors Arthur Hayes Opticians, East Grinstead Glass, Signature Me Flooring and Citrus Travel. We would also like to thank Dr Emily Mayhew for speaking at the event about the Guinea Pig Club, Vice-President Paul Beaver talking about the Fleet Airm Arm pilots in the Battle of Britain, John Pye for selling Emily's book at the event, Ethem Cetintas of Secret Spitfires and Steve Milne/David Fairhead of Spitfire: Inspiration of a Nation for allowing us to screen their respective films without charge.

See http://www.spitfiresociety.org/content-Battle-of-Britain-film-festival,News-Events for further details of the event.

The Spitfire Society Award - 2019/2020

Thomas Preskett - The Spitfire Society Award

May I first start by saying how grateful I am to receive this bursary from The Spitfire Society. I am currently in my third year at the University of Southampton studying aeronautics and astronautics specialising in aerodynamics. I chose to study aeronautical engineering due to my passion for aviation which originates from attending air shows and museums around the country. This led to me volunteering for Brooklands Museum working on aircraft restoration which furthered my interest leading to me to choose a degree in aeronautical engineering. During my degree at the University I have achieved a part 1 average of 89% and a part 2 average of 81.9%. This bursary will greatly support my studies via the purchase of literature as well as resources required for modules . It will also allow me to increase my knowledge of aviation by allowing me to travel to museums and aviation events around the country and further afield. Finally, may I thank the Society once again for the generosity in awarding me this bursary.

The Spitfire Society Award - 2018/2019

As the Vice-Chair of The Spitfire Society I’m delighted to announce that Tom Griffiths (3rd year Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Southampton) is the first holder of The Spitfire Society Award, and a very worthy recipient. The Society award of £1,000 will assist gifted students with their studies and develop new innovations in Aeronautics and Astronautics/Aerodynamics in the United Kingdom and around the world.  Please support us in this charitable objective by becoming a member, purchasing our merchandise or donating to the Society.  Steve Pearse, Vice-Chairman

Here are some words from Tom himself:

Firstly, I would like to thank all at the Spitfire Society for this award. It is a great honour and will be a great help towards the completion of my degree as I will put it towards textbooks and design tools. I am a third year student studying Aeronautical Engineering with an Aerodynamic pathway intending on entering a career in aerodynamic design. So far, I have achieved an average of 91% and 80% in my first two years respectively. Since a young age, I knew I wanted to study engineering however it was a love of aircraft, sailing and Formula One that drew me towards this particular degree.

Vice-Chair Stephen Pearse & Dr Scott Walker

The Spitfire Society Award - 2018-2021

The Spitfire Society Award will provide financial support to high-achieving students on the MEng Aeronautics and Astronautics/Aerodynamics degree. This support can help students to purchase relevant books and equipment needed to undertake their course, and can often mean that a student will not have to undertake a part-time job alongside their studies. This will prove invaluable to the award recipients who can then focus the majority of their time on obtaining a good degree.

The Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at the University of Southampton has an excellent reputation, being ranked fifth in the Complete University Guide 2018 and with 92% of students moving into a professional job or further study six months after graduation. On the MEng Aeronautics and Astronautics/Aerodynamics degree, students study a number of core subjects during their first two years, and in Year 3 can opt to specialise or retain a broad-based study path through a wide selection of subject modules.  For full details of the course please click here.

The first two years provide a solid foundation in engineering, with an emphasis on aerospace. In year two, students take a practical week-long course in flight testing, where experiments are performed on board a Jetstream aircraft. Towards the end of year two, students will select their optional modules for years three and four, or they can transfer onto one of our eight specialist courses (including Aerodynamics and Airvehicle Systems Design). Design is a central theme in years three and four. Students will carry out an individual and group design project, of which previous examples include the design and construction of a human powered aircraft. There is also the option to spend a semester at one of our partner universities in France, Sweden or the USA. In their final year, students can choose  from a range of specialist modules to suit their interests, including Race Car Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics.

Recent Southampton graduates are employed at organisations including Dyson, the European Space Agency, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes and Rolls-Royce. 

The Secret Spitfires - 2017


The story of the Secret Spitfires relates to the time after the main Spitfire factories were bombed and destroyed in Southampton.

The production of Spitfires went on in secret being built in villages and towns around the southern counties including Aldermarston, Chattis Hill, Eastleigh, Henley, High Post, Hursley, Newbury, Reading, Salisbury, Trowbridge, Winchester, Worthy Down, and at dispersed locations around Southampton.  Sometimes in the most unlikely of places: sheds, garages, back gardens, bus depots and even a hotel.

The Secret Spitfire project was to document this story together with first hand accounts from a period that played an important part in maintaining our war effort and eventually defeating the Nazi regime, bringing peace to Europe.

The Spitfire Society is proud to have supported this project which has taken two and a half years to research and film. The DVD will shortly be available.
To find out more about the Secret Spitfire please visit secretspitfires.com/ and read more on this interesting story.  The Society provided £1,000 towards the costs of production.

The Seagry Spitfire Memorial - 2014-2015

This Wiltshire village has erected a memorial to two brave Spitfire pilots who died in 1941 in a mid air collision over the village whilst practising dog fight manoeuvres prior to combat duties.  The Society contributed £1,250.

The Essex Ontario Spitfire Memorial - 2014-2015

The Canadian town of Essex has erected a memorial in memory of their 1,400 young men who joined the RCAF and took part in the aerial conflict in Europe during the Second World War. The Society donated $1,000.

The Ulster Aviation Society - 2014-2015

This is a very active Northern Ireland Museum acquired a Spitfire which they tour around the schools as part of their educational initiative and needed to replenish their depleted funds as a result of this special purchase in order to maintain the services they offer to education.  The Society donated £1,000.

Operation Spitfire - 2014-2015

The Spitfire Room in the Potteries Museum, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent is being totally refurbished and brought up to date with the view to attracting young people in appreciating  the special  engineering that goes into construction a Spitfire.  Funding was granted for a video projector, programme licenses as well  as lighting to  turn this space into a major museum attraction.  The Spitfire Society has been recognised within the room for its contribution with a plaque and permission to have our promotional leaflets available  for those visitors who might be interested in what we represent.  The Society donated £2,550.

RAF St Mawgan Memorial Garden - 2012

The 'Central' committee has awarded a £420 grant to the 'RAF St Mawgan Memorial Garden' project, which will form an addition to their Internal Heritage Trail.

The LSB grant will fund the centre piece of this new landscaped area, in the form of a full size replica 3 bladed Spitfire propeller and Spinner.  The plan is to present the propeller on a granite plinth, with one blade pointed vertically down, akin to the RAF Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) rank badge design.

The Memorial Garden, due for completion during summer 2012, will not only be viewed by the tri-service personnel and permanent Station staff, but also by large numbers of young cadets from across the country, encouraging their interest in military heritage, aviation and the legacy of the Spitfire.

The Heritage Trail booklet issued by RAF St Mawgan and given to those participating individuals will provide background information and context of each site on the Trail, and will educate readers on the Spitfire, Seafire and designer R J Mitchell, together with honouring the name of Leonard Stillwell. 

The Ratcliffe Spitfire - 2012

The 'Central' committee has awarded a £500 grant to 'Ratcliffe College', Leicestershire to support their ambitious plan to build a full-scale replica Spitfire Mk I.

This 2 year project will be carried out by students of the College within their extra-curricular 'Flight Club', the age range of the students being from year 7 (11 yr olds) to year 11 (16 yr olds). 

The Spitfire will be constructed in a semi-modular way, with initial focus on the cockpit area. The LSB grant will be used to purchase a variety of materials and tools to enable this project to become a reality.

Ratcliffe Aerodrome forms part of the College grounds and the replica Spitfire will honour the many ATA and other pilots who flew from it during WWII when it was No.6 Ferry Pool. 

For further information and progress updates please click here.

The Les Colquhoun Memorial Award - 2012

The annual Presentation of Awards took place at Farnborough College School of Engineering in November 2011 and some 40 prize-winners were present to receive awards from Mr John Hensman of Honda Motor Europe. 

The Spitfire Society supports 'The Les Colquhoun Memorial Award' for the 'Best Year 1' student and the 2011 recipient was Hasith Senanayake, who receives a cheque for £300. 

In his address, Mr Hensman spoke to the winners on the importance of their work throughout the engineering field and outlined the contribution they will undoubtedly make in their future careers. Hasith was accompanied by his sister and her family and their congratulations to him were well deserved. 

Spitfire Simulator for ATA Museum - 2011

HRH Prince Michael of Kent to open the new ATA Museum - 'Grandma Flew Spitfires! '

Leonard Stillwell Bequest sponsors Spitfire simulator ...
We are delighted to receive the following from Richard Poad, Chairman of the Maidenhead Heritage Centre and a former BA pilot, who has undertaken a major project to honour the ATA in establishing a new Museum in Maidenhead and very near to White Waltham, the HQ of the ATA in the War. The Museum holds over 70 log books of the 1246 pilots in the ATA and has some 3000 articles collected over the years about the ATA. The new Museum was opened to the public in August and Molly Rose - shown here -a former ATA Pilot now in her 91 st year declared the Museum 'operational'. 

The Society has played an important part right at an early stage in providing a Spitfire cockpit simulator: As Richard says:

"Grandma Flew Spitfires!, the new ATA Exhibition and Archive at Maidenhead Heritage Centre,Spitfire Society has opened with a star attraction - a simulator, with no less than 5 screens incorporated into a 2m replica cockpit section, a high degree of realism, a perspex windscreen, a floor-mounted control column and authentic Merlin sounds. Visitors to the ATA exhibition can fly the simulator for a small charge which will go towards maintenance and upgrades.

The simulator is not a fairground ride, but a real learning experience. Visitors with no flying experience can study a display about the parts of an aircraft and the principles of flight before climbing into the cockpit. The basic flight controls will be explained before the simulator is 'released' into free flight over Southampton Water and the Isle of Wight, where there are plenty of scenic views. Visitors with flying experience will be able to take off from Eastleigh, birthplace of the Spitfire, and "ferry" the aircraft on a short flight to Bournemouth/ Hurn - perhaps with a chance for some gentle aerobatics on the way! Recommended flying speeds are those set out in the famous ATA Ferry Pilots Notes, including a climb speed of 160mph, a modest cruise speed of 230mph and an approach speed of 100mph.

Our Trustees are extremely grateful to the Spitfire Society's Eastern and Central teams who administer the Leonard Stillwell Bequest for awarding us a substantial grant to fund this simulator. It will form a major part of the Museum and gives us a marvellous opportunity to enthuse our visitors about the Spitfire and all things aeronautical. We look forward to Society members joining us at 18 Park Street, Maidenhead." 

On 19th October we will be honoured that our Patron, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, will formally open the new Museum and we hope will 'fly' the simulator. As a qualified pilot we look forward to his views on his sortie ! It is hoped that a number of surviving ATA members will be present and they will be entertained at a formal lunch afterwards at White Waltham, a location full of nostalgia for those who served in the ATA.

Flying Scholarships for the Disabled - 2011

The Eastern committee have kicked off the Bequest with a £10,000 award to 'Flying Scholarships for the Disabled' (www.toreachforthesky.org.uk/index) which will pay for one student to have flying tuition, ground school and supporting exams. The selection process takes place at flying schools in the UK and South Africa and confirmation is expected from RAF Cranwell in April 2011 for 'our' student's progress. The scholarship certificate will be presented at a special ceremony at the International Air Tattoo, Fairford in July 2011. If he/she completes the course successfully, then the winner will receive their wings at a later ceremony. 

The Les Colquhoun Memorial Award - 2010

The Central committee decided to take over the annual award of the 'Les Colquhoun Spitfire Society Prize for the Best Year 1 Aeronautical Student' at the Farnborough College of Technology. The 2010 prize was awarded to a French student - Thierry Cavaghan - at the annual ceremony in December.