Flying Scholarships for Disabled People presents wings and scholarships at RIAT 2013.

Monday 29th July 2013

  • FSDP
  • Mary Doyle recieves her wings from Prince Faisal and Chief Air Marshall Sir Steven Dalton

On the occasion of this year's Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT 2013) the disability and aviation charity, Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP) awarded certificates of scholarship to nine new trainees and congratulated a further eight for achieving their wings. The charity's programme aims to change the candidate's lives, all of whom are disabled, through the medium of flight. This brings the total number of students that have been through the training programme to nearly 400 over a 30 year period.

The certificates were awarded to the proud scholars by the charity Patron His Royal Highness Prince Faisal of Jordan whilst the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton presented them with flying jackets.

In welcoming the guests to the ceremony, Chairman of the charity Edwin Brenninkmeyer paid tribute to the courage, determination and good humour of the scholars for overcoming seemingly impossible situations in order to gain a new lease of life. Amongst the scholars were those who had lost limbs through injury in military action, had suffered devastating motorbike accidents or who suffer from neurological problems making everyday life a challenge. "FSDP aims to demonstrate that whilst you are physically challenged you can still learn and develop new skills that seem to be out of reach. To use a familiar saying we don't wish to give them fish, we want to teach them how to fish.  The scholars show that with the right attitude almost anything is possible and we are very proud of all of them," said Brenninkmeyer in his opening speech.

One of this year's sets of wings was awarded to Alan Robinson. Having lost his right leg in a motorbike accident Alan took up the opportunity to learn to fly microlights and will be joining a team of disabled men and women who will be flying to Antarctica next year. This expedition is being supported by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry through the Royal Foundation and demonstrates just what can be achieved through the FSDP programme.

Special awards were also presented to two of this year's newly qualified pilots. Mary Doyle who suffers from Cerebral Palsy was awarded The Wings Around the World Trophy which is awarded to the female scholar who is judged to have achieved much from the flight training experience. Since learning to fly Mary has not only gained in confidence but now has become an ambassador for the charity and never hesitates to give as much back as she can. The award was presented by renowned female aviator Polly Vacher who through two solo round the world flights raised up to half a million pounds for FSDP.  A second award, the George Stewart Memorial trophy which is presented to the scholar judged to have achieved the most from the scholarship, was awarded to Mark Tomlinson.

Lee Noon was awarded this year's Red Arrows scholarship and was proud to have his photo taken with the Red Arrows team who dropped in to show their ongoing support. Mike Child Red Arrow 9 commented "It is great to offer people the opportunity to go flying that otherwise wouldn't have the chance. Flying gives the feeling of being in control and for those restricted to a wheelchair or by minimal movement flight provides a whole new dimension in which to function. The confidence they build from the training is amazing and we are so pleased to be involved with such an excellent charity."

Audience members included FSDP Trustees, previous scholars, family and friends of this year's students who sat alongside Iron Maiden's lead singer Bruce Dickinson recently appointed as a Vice Patron, David Jason one of the UK's leading Actors and senior military figures from the Royal Air Force.

The FSDP funding covers the costs of the pilot training in addition to accommodation and services needed throughout the duration of the course.

About FSDP:

FSDP was founded in 1983 in memory of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader the World War II spitfire pilot and fighter ace who lost both legs in a flying accident. In spite of his disability he went on to lead a squadron during WW2.

Douglas Bader trained as a pilot at RAF Cranwell which is now the home of the FSDP selection process.  He was also Patron of the Royal International Air Tattoo which is one of the world's largest air shows and the venue for the scholar presentations. When Sir Douglas Bader, died Lady Bader asked for donations to help a disabled person fly. This was the origin of the charity some 30 years ago.

Today it relies solely on donations from corporations or individuals to fund pilot training.  The charity is run by a board of trustees, one full-time employee, volunteers and previous FSDP scholars.

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