Flying Scholarships for Disabled People launch 40th anniversary year
By David Wood | 21st February 2023
Today, Gloucestershire-based charity Flying Scholarships for Disabled People (FSDP) launches their 40th anniversary year on what would have been the birthday of WWll flying ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader.
The charity was set up in 1983 as a living memorial to his indomitable spirit by the late Paul Bowen and Tim Prince, founders of the Royal International Air Tattoo. Sir Douglas had been a patron and long-time supporter of the world-renowned airshow.
After losing both legs in an air accident in 1931, Sir Douglas persisted to resume his flying career with the RAF where he went on to achieve fame in WWll as a fighter pilot, leader and dedicated supporter of disabled people, to whom he set an outstanding example of courage and perseverance.
His love of flying is the inspiration behind the charity and FSDP has been providing flying scholarships for 40 years, enabling over 500 disabled adults across the UK to change their lives for the better through the thrill of aviation.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of this life-changing charity, raise awareness of its work and generate additional funds, a number of activities are planned along with a new logo.
A group of trustees and supporters are planning to spread the footprint of the charity by visiting over 40 airfields across the country.
The Big Wing Tour will take place in June with the aircrews setting out from their local airfields to fly routes that will cover most of the country. As part of the plan, former FSDP scholars will join the crews to fly on stages of the tour.
As well as the former scholars, the crews will also be accompanied by an appropriately named Teddy Bear - with 'Douglas Bearder' taking the lead!
Ian Revell, vice-chair of the charity, who will be venturing as far north as the Orkney Islands in Scotland, accompanied by 'Charles LindBeargh', said: "By visiting airfields across the country, we hope to raise the profile of FSDP within the general aviation sector and beyond. Meeting up with former scholars en route will be a great opportunity to engage with the FSDP family and hopefully inspire potential candidates."
FSDP will also be hosting a special 40th Anniversary Gala Ball on the 16th September at the RAF Museum Midlands (RAF Cosford). Dining amongst the aircraft, the event will include a three-course dinner, auction and entertainment.
A new mobile APP is also in development which will help past, present and future scholars connect with each other and share their experiences of learning to fly and disabilities. This community aspect of the charity is as important as flying for many of the scholars and applicants and the mobile APP will further this facility that has previously only been available via the FSDP website.
Guy Bowen from Tetbury, chair of the board of trustees and son of Air Tattoo founder Paul Bowen, said: "The charity has been changing lives for 40 years and it's only right that we celebrate this and raise awareness of the positive impact of receiving one of our flying scholarships.
FSDP scholars have a range of disabilities and illnesses including amputation, paraplegia, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and poliomyelitis. We have now helped over 500 people 'reach for the sky' and change their lives by experiencing the joy of freedom in the air, learning new skills and regaining their confidence. Here's to another 40 years!"
To find out more about FSDP, apply for a scholarship, or become a sponsor please go to www.fsdp.co.uk
Flying Scholarships for Disabled People is based in Fairford and shares offices with the Royal International Air Tattoo.
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