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Veterans gather at Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar

Dorothea Barron in a Spitfire. Photo courtesy of Ben Mead.

On 28 May, the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans escorted a group of veterans to the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar.

Among the group of veterans who attended the event were 13 men and women who had served in WWII – and one was to have the surprise of her life.

Just before 11am, Colin Mills, the chairman of the Taxi Charity, welcomed the veterans and thanked the team at Biggin Hill for inviting the charity to their hangar, which houses 13 Spitfires. Then, to the amazement of 99-year-old veteran, Dorothea Barron, who trained troops on the use of semaphore ahead of D-Day, she was told that charity ambassador, Johnny Gallagher, was going to make her dream come true.

Dorothea will celebrate her 100th birthday later this year and Johnny had asked what she might like as a present for this milestone. Without hesitation, Dorothea had told him that she would love to fly in a Spitfire. Without Dorothea having any idea of the plans, the Spitfire flight had been booked for later that day.

Unfortunately, just like the plans for the Normandy invasion were thwarted by the weather, so too were the plans for Dorothea’s flight. Low cloud, coupled with a strong wind, meant that the plane couldn’t take off, but Dorothea was briefed, got dressed in a flying suit and sat in a Spitfire which taxied along the runway. And just like D-Day would be rescheduled for 6 June, Dorothea’s flight will be rescheduled too.

During the social event, the veterans who had been driven to Biggin Hill by volunteer London cab drivers, enjoyed a light lunch and heard poet John Armstrong, who had been commissioned by Taxi Charity ambassador, Johnny Gallagher, read his new poem ‘Spitfire’.

WWII veterans at Biggin Hill. Photo courtesy of Dean Euesden.

Chairman Colin Mills said: "Everyone had a wonderful day. The kind invitation from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar gave 30 veterans who had served in WWII and other conflicts, including Korea and Afghanistan, the chance to meet just ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day and have a good catch up. Social and commemoration events are at the heart of everything the Taxi Charity has done for the last 76 years and as a cabbie who has been volunteering for the charity for five years, I know how much our volunteer drivers really appreciate what an honour it is to spend time with these veterans."

The Taxi Charity will be taking a group of veterans to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

About the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar

The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar is a Spitfire flight and restoration facility dedicated to returning Supermarine Spitfires to the air and offering people the chance to fly in a lovingly restored and maintained two seat Spitfire.

The Guardian, 29 May 2024
The Times, 29 May 2024
Daily Express, 29 May 2024


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