How We Started
I first became interested in aviation when I visited the studio of Frank Wootton with my Dad in the 1970’s. He collected Frank’s landscapes, and on a visit I spotted the aviation prints, one being ‘Lancaster’ signed by Barnes Wallis, Dad bought it for me! And that’s how it all began.
I was lucky enough to visit Frank’s studio many times after that, becoming quite friendly with him. He telephoned one day and asked if I’d like to meet somebody, so I dropped everything and drove over, knocked on the Studio door and to my surprise there was Sir Douglas Bader signing Bader Bale Out, and that was the beginning of meeting many of my heroes.
Frank Wootton in his studio
Over the years I collected many of Frank’s works and with the bug of meeting Sir Douglas Bader I started writing to the pilots via Wing Commander Pat Hancock, who was the then secretary of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, and that’s when I started meeting so many of the ‘Few’ and also with Franks help I managed to go and visit Wing Commander Bob Stanford-Tuck several times.
At this time I started writing to members of 617 Squadron with the help of Bill Howarth my Lancaster print by Frank started to fill up with signatures of this famous squadron.
As we continued into the 1980’s trading with the cabinet business started to become really difficult with the recession and having a young family it was tough. Frank knew I made furniture as a living and before I knew it I was making cabinets for him to store the prints.
Over the years we became good friends and when the recession really started to bite Frank suggested we produce a print to raise some money. I knew Wing Commander Bob Doe well and he said he’d sign for us so that was the start, with the launch of ‘Down on the Farm’.
'Down on the Farm' by Frank Wootton
Frank mentioned that there was an airshow at North Weald in May 1990 which was the Fighter Meet, being the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain year we booked a trade stand and he gave me one of each of his prints to display, my uncle gave me an old market stall, Frank painted our sign.
Frank and Jinny came up with the name, that was when Vector Fine Art Prints was born we have never looked back.
We owe it all the Frank! With the success of North Weald we wound down the cabinet making business and booked up as many airshows as we could, exhibiting all over the country at Duxford, Boscombe Down, Cosford, Biggin Hill, Fairford, Mildenhall and the list goes on.
Also during this year I would drive Frank to signing events at the RAF club for new prints that were being produced by Richard Lucraft, the prints were Mosquito, Typhoon and a bit later Lancaster.
I was still visiting many of the veterans, some becoming close friends and one or two started to come to the airshows with us raising funds for the Battle of Britain Fighter Association.
At this time I was meeting some of the most famous Battle of Britain pilots that you would only read about, Group Captain Peter Townsend, Sir Harry Broadhurst, Squadron Leader Ben Bennions, Sir Fred Rosier, Sir Hugh Dundas, Sir Dennis Crowley-Milling, and the list goes on.
Our first sign painted by Frank Wootton
Vector Fine Art at Northweald 1990
Frank Wootton with 'Typhoon'
Colin with Sir Dennis Crowley-Milling
Signing with Sir Harry Broadhurst
With Air Commodore Alan Deere
These were from the Flying Legends airshow at Duxford.
I became an authorized dealer with the Military Gallery in Bath, with the contact I had with the veterans and the knowledge I gained from them and the business we became friends and I started helping with the odd signing event on Robert Taylor’s prints. As some of the veterans were unable to travel to Bath for the print signing I would take the editions to them.
During 1991 I was on the road attending airshows and visiting veterans all over the UK and also had the odd signing trip to Germany.
Colin and Geoffrey Page
Christmas the same year I popped over to Frank’s to have a drink! he mentioned that a memorial at Dover was being planned with members of the Battle of Britain Memorial trust including Wing Commander Geoffrey Page. He told me they were planning a gala dinner and auction at the Savoy hotel on the 2nd April 1992, where the Queen mother would be the guest of honour. They were looking for auction prizes and I offered to donate one of Franks prints ‘Looking for Trouble’, which I had been collecting signatures on for about 8 months. On the day of the auction I travelled up with Frank and Jinny (Franks wife).
Signed menu from Savoy Auction
At the reception before the auction I stayed with Frank as I was overwhelmed with so many famous people. I was on the table with Frank, Jinny, Air Commodore Alan Deere, Wing Commander Beamont, and some wealthy businessmen.
As the bidding started my heart was fluttering, we were up to £2000 when the bidding stalled.
Frank went and had a quiet word with the auctioneer, stating that many Officer Commanding’s from the Battle had added their signatures, the bidding soon started again and it surged finishing at £3400!
Letter of thanks from Geoffrey Page
Colin with Nicolas Trudgian
At this time we were exhibiting at the Air Tattoo in Fairford, I started talking to a chap about Aviation Art and to my surprise, he asked why I didn’t stock his work, it was Nicolas Trudgian! The next airshow we had his work on display.
I became very friendly with an original Dambuster Frank Appleby, he was on the Dams raid as Flight engineer to Les Munro, Frank stayed with the squadron until after D-Day, and Frank retold a story I must share…
Dambuster Frank Appleby
On the morning of D-Day, 617 were on operation taxable where they were dropping window to make the Germans think there was an invasion fleet approaching at Par de Calais. As the Lancaster’s were ready to take off Leonard Cheshire, who was commanding 617 Lancaster went U/S so he jumped out and climbed into Les Munro’s Lancaster and sat up next to him in the flight engineers seat which was Frank Applebys, so Frank always told me he spent 8 hours sitting on the floor next to Leonard Cheshire’s feet!
I wrote to Group Captain Sir Leonard Cheshire about Frank who I had met on a number of occasions and arranged for Frank and I to go up to Group Captain Cheshire’s offices in London for them to meet (the first time since the war) as we went into the Group Captains office Frank walked right up to his desk and saluted him, as if it was 1944.
A letter from Leonard Cheshire
In March 1993 Frank Wootton asked if I wanted to help with an exhibition of his work and of course I did, so on April 1st 1993 we arrived at RAF Marham for the official events of the 75th Anniversary of the RAF, on arrival I thought they were going to dismantle the van as the security was so high. They put a dog in the back with the paintings, sniffing about and Frank shouting ‘mind the paintings’! We later learnt that the Royal family was in attendance.
75th Anniversary of the RAF Ticket
75th Anniversary of the RAF Pass
At the end of April Frank asked if I wanted to go the Woodall Spa where they were signing the official 50th Anniversary of the Dambuster raid print that was produced by Richard Lucraft.
It was a great weekend and on the Monday a photo was snapped of Frank talking to David Shannon in the reception area of Woodall.
After saying all our goodbyes and driving back to Sussex, we had a call on the Thursday to say that David Shannon had passed away in his sleep.
Frank Wootton talking with David Shannon
As we got into the Spring of 1993 the Memorial at Dover was being completed and the grand opening was on the 9th July 1993, with the wind howling, almost blowing the Marquees away, the Queen Mother holding her hat on, the Memorial was unveiled, from then on we were seconded into fundraising by Geoffrey, which we continued for over 26 years!
Unveiling of the BOTB Memorial Invitation
Signed programme of music from the unveiling
Signed order of service from the unveiling of the BOTB Memorial
Wilton House 1994
1994 coincided with the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, which saw another busy year.
Frank Wootton asked me if I would like to help him set up his major exhibition at Wilton House to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of D-Day.
Colin, Frank and Colins Dad 'The Old Chap'
We were honoured for the first time at the flying legends airshow to have Robert Taylor sign with us for the weekend. I had been accumulating for nearly eight months various rare prints, drawings and remarques. What an airshow it was! We were extremely honoured to have with us two very distinguished pilots Sir Ivor Broom and AVM Birdy Wilson signing customers purchases. Also to our surprise Group Captain John Cunningham just turned up to support us. To top off this superb weekend we managed to wangle a flight in the Blenheim for Dad who was celebrating his 60th Birthday. Thanks to John Romain and Smudge.
Robert Taylor Signing his book
Group Captain John Cunningham
Colin cooking up some well deserved steaks
Colins dear Dad Lez in the Blenheim
Vector Fine Art at IAT Fairford
The following weekend was just as busy at the IAT Airshow at Fairford.
It was here that Nicolas Trudgian joined us for the first time.
Our bed for the night at IAT Fairford
1996 would turn out to be one of the most memorable years for Vector to date.
Attending many airshows including the Anniversary of the Spitfire at Duxford where our guest of honour was Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson. The airshow was so busy that it was full to capacity that people were parking on the M11 and walking in. After the morning signing session we couldn’t find Johnnie anywhere, we finally found him sitting on the tailgate of his range rover at the back of the marquee drinking red wine and signing copies of his book ‘Wing Leader’.
Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson
At the September Airshow at Duxford we had the honour of launching Robert Taylor’s Air Combat paintings volume lll, it was so busy that we blocked the aisle for most of the day and all the traders around complained. Johnnie enjoyed himself so much in July that he came back for the September show being joined by Wing Commander Roland Beamont.
A rather busy day at the Robert Taylor book launch saw queues outside the Vector marquee
Colin with Robert Taylor
Nicolas Trudgian at the Dams
During this time we became great friends with Nicolas Trudgian, we put forward the idea to do a Dams print with Nick.
The print was called ‘Breaching the Dam’.
Colin, Nick and four Dambusters at the signing
The winter of 1996 was a blur mostly being in Germany getting Robert Taylor’s print signed by German veterans and also meeting with many others.
Colin with Gunther Seegar
Colin with Eric Rudorffer
Gunther Rall Signing
Colin with Franz Woildich
Helmutt Benneman Signing
It was a great start to 1997 with a trip to London for the signing of Robert Taylor’s print The Gallant Ohio.
I enjoyed the exhibition of Frank Wootton’s work at the RAF club, and then the RAF museum Hendon where our van had so many originals in the back that I’ve never driven so slowly in all my life!
At the beginning of 1998 I was honoured to be involved with the research and signing of Robert Taylor’s Operation Chastise, going around all the UK to meet with the veterans and flying to Canada to meet Joe McCarthy and the other Canadian veterans, my memory of this is the best lobster and steak dinner I’ve ever had was with Joe.
During another crazy year in 1998 with airshows and signings we was deeply saddened in April when Frank Wootton unfortunately passed away. One of my biggest honours was to organize a Spitfire flypast at the funeral. Charlie Brown was the pilot and I don’t think the minimum height of flying tree top high was in the manual!
Frank Wootton who is still dearly missed till this day
Colin with the pilot Charlie Brown in his Spitfire
Flypast Flight Map for Frank Wootton's Funeral
It was a great honour to have known Frank and I can honestly say he was a true friend, Here are just a few photos that Frank took just after D-Day when he landed, as he was a war artist for the Royal Air Force.
In September at the Airshow at Duxford we were honoured to host Nicolas Trudgian’s book launch of Air Combat Paintings, our two guests of honour were Group Captain Dennis David and Generalleutnant Gunther Rall. We sold out of all the books and beer….. but what a weekend!
During 1999 we started to do book launches with John at Grubstreet, which were all very successful. Over the coming years we would have launched with John, Tales of my Time, 603 History books, Those Other Eagles, Second to None, Hornchurch books, Faster than the Sun and the list goes on….during this time we also started to hold signing events with Battle of Britain veterans, where all the funds raised would go to the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, over the years we raised 10s of thousands of pounds for the trust, and being a key supporter.
The picture depicts us presenting a large cheque to Wing Commander John Beazley and Group Captain Patrick Tootal for the Memorial Trust.
This is a small selection of photos of some of our friends who would come and sign to raise funds.
The year 2000 was the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and what a year that was. It all started with a massive long trip into Germany with Roberts print Assault on the Capital collecting the signatures.
From left to right: Eduard Neumann, Edmund Rossmann, Hans Ekkard-Bob and Gunther Seeger
Coming home for a few days, only to go back out on the road signing “Fight For the Sky” and “Glorious Summer”
One of my fondest memories of this year was the Duxford airshow in July.
We launched our great friends Group Captain Dennis David’s book. We were very protective of him because he was poorly, but he insisted he wanted to join us.
His smile was such a picture, with the queues of people for his book, but saddened only three weeks later when we lost him.
Straight after the Flying Legends Airshow I started organising the signing for The Battle of Britain Memorial Trusts print by Frank Wootton that was to raise funds for the memorial.
This is where I drove to Warsaw in Poland to meet General Skalski. It was a 3400 mile round trip in 5 days! (Never again)
On top of all this was the launch of Robert Taylors Air Combat painting Vol lV in September at Duxford. Sitting along side Robert were Eleven Battle of Britain pilots signing. On the Saturday evening I left the bar at 1am leaving Paddy Barthropp, George Unwin, Ken Wilkinson and Pete Brothers still putting drinks on my bar tab. What a great weekend it was but we won’t mention the bar and hotel bill!
2001 was just as busy with a phone call from Richard Lucraft asking if I had the contacts for veterans who flew with Douglas Bader in his RAF career. He had an idea of commemorating a print of when Douglas Bader had his last operational flight. The print was called Inspiration by John Young.
A few photos of the veterans signing
We had another busy airshow season with a couple of book launches and when the airshow season was finished Richard wanted to reproduce the official 617 Squadron photograph which was taken after the Dams Raid.
He asked if I had the contact details of the veterans from the raid, and with an awful lot of planning we managed to go and visit nine of the veterans in the UK and Canada.
I tried to get him to pay for Rose and me to go to New Zealand to meet Les Munro, but he wouldn’t have it!
Another phone call from Richard asked if I knew any veterans from the Malta campaign. I gave him a list and before we knew it I was on the road again with the highlight being travelling to Malta to meet some of the veterans of the siege.
The highlight of 2002 was when Nick told me he was working on Volume 11 of Air Combat Legends and of course I jumped at the chance to launch it at Duxford, wracking my brains to do something different with having veterans join us. I had heard the Coastal Command veterans were trying to raise funds for a plaque to go into Westminster Abbey so I contacted Sir John Barraclough about veterans coming along and he said he would ask some prominent veterans. To our complete surprise I had a call from John Cruikshank VC to discuss what the arrangements were, the hotel was booked and we just waited with baited breath. What a weekend if turned out to be! Raising over £2000 towards the plaque.
As we went into 2003 we had several book launches, during the winter before I got to know Jim Earnshaw who was the secretary and war time veteran of 609 Squadron. I went to Harrogate and he showed me hundreds of photos, after many hours of sifting through them Vector published 609 at War.
After a winter of visiting veterans in early 2004 I had a call from John at Grub Street that he was publishing Ken Rees’s book Lie in the Dark and Listen.
We came up with the idea to try and organize the book launch over the 60th Anniversary weekend. I contacted Duxford and they said we could hold an event in the American Hanger.
We were all set up by 9am and then started to panic as there were no customers, we forgot the museum didn’t open until 10! We had seven veterans from The Great Escape.
It got too lunchtime and we had to send out for more books, that was our record of selling 370 books in one day!
As you can imagine the bar bill and the hotel was a record as well.
Another great launch was John Nichols book Tail-End Charlies at Duxford. I sent letters out to the Bomber Command Veterans we knew and we had a staggering 32 veterans turn up, it was absolutely chaos trying to find more tables and chairs and in the end we put them in a big arc under the wings of the Aircraft in the American hanger.
As we approached the Spring of 2004 I surprised Rose and her Dad by taking them back to New Zealand where they use to live. I managed to wangle a visit to go and meet Mick Shand the famous Battle of Britain pilot and also the last man out of the tunnel in the Great Escape.
We also helped Richard Lucraft with the official 60th Anniversary of D-Day print with the Normandy Veterans Association this was travelling all over the UK and driving to the South of France to sit with Pierre Cloistermann.
This was a four day round trip but I must admit the duck dinner he laid on for me was the finest I’ve ever had.
As we got into 2005 I contacted the American Artist Gil Cohen, I liked his figure work immensely and wanted to do a project with him.
Rose and I flew over to stay with him and Alice for a few days to get to know each other. After a lot of planning and crab legs (thanks Alice) and listening to Air Commodore Pete Brothers memories when he was stationed at Biggin, the print Return to the Bump was published.
We launched the print at Duxford flying Legends airshow where Gil and Alice came over as our guests. They had a great time and I managed to wangle for Gil to go into the Lancaster, he was in his element taking lots of photos of the interior which lead a winter project with the help of Jack Watson of 156 Squadron helping with the technical side. The print we produced was We Guide to Strike. Jack organised for the veterans of 156 Pathfinder Squadron to sign the print which was launched in 2006.
Also this year I came up with the idea of the famous Dieppe Raid, Gil duly contacted his great friend Colonel Don Blakeslee and the print “Fourth Mission of the Day” was duly painted, printed and signed.
I flew over to Philadelphia picked the prints up and drove down to Miami to meet with Don Blakeslee, not realizing the drive would take 2 days. (America is vast)
As I sat with Don, it was a great experience especially when he showed me his magnum, which he carried in the glove box of his truck.
Fourth Mission of the Day by Gil Cohen
For the final event of the year we managed to organize with our great friend Doug Radcliffe, who was a bomber Command veteran a large signing event at the RAF museum to aid funds for the Bomber Command Association of which the guest of honour was Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham, during this really busy day we managed to raise over £4000!
As we went into 2007 I went to see Nicolas Trudgian and he mentioned he had just finished a painting of the 352nd Fighter Group. When he showed me, I thought it was stunning and as we started to talk about it I suggested that if I could get veterans to sign it, lets co-publish it.
The print was titled “The Battle for New Years Day”. We got it published and the next thing I was on a plane to the USA, with the help of ‘Punchy’ Powell we managed to get five other veterans to sign it from the 352nd Fighter Group.
When all the veterans from the 352nd Nick and myself where invited to the Gathering of Legends Airshow, where they had nearly 100 Mustangs!
The 352nd had a marquee on the flight line and what a superb few days we had.
We also met up with our great friend Gil Cohen (boys and their toys).
Colin, Gil and Nick at The Gathering of Legends Airshow
With the start of the airshow season we had the idea of putting a memorial to Wing Commander George Unwin who we had lost the year before.
‘Grumpy’ was a great supporter of ours and as he was based at Duxford pre-war and then at Fowlmere. The 19 Squadron pre-war hangar is still there and you will now see two benches which came from donations collected from those who attended the signing event in May. We had such a great response that there are two benches!
Also during this year at the airshows we were raising lots of funds for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust where the veterans would sign and all the money raised went to the trust.
On one of these events Stapme was with us and the year before he mentioned that he had lost his medals abroad whilst working, so after talking to Rose we arranged to have a set made for him. We presented them to him at the Flying Legends Airshow.
It’s the first time I’ve ever seen Stapme speechless. One of our most treasured memories.
As we got into 2008 we were researching with Gil Cohen about a new Battle of Britain painting, which depicted Dowding visiting pilots at Hornchurch.
The painting was titled ‘Gentlemen as you were’ and it was signed by three of the few who were based at Hornchurch.
Also at this time it was announced that RAF Bentley Priory was to close, but under the condition that part of it would be turned into a Museum. After speaking with Patrick Tootal I came up with the idea to do a signing event at Bentley Priory, with it still being an operational base it was a logistical nightmare!
Speaking with the Officer Commanding and getting it all into place with the military police we got the ball rolling. Letters were sent out to the veterans where we had over 20 replies.
With everything set up and the signing due to start at 10am we were shocked when there were no customers. What we didn’t realize was the military police were holding all the public back who were already at the gate waiting until 10am.
When it finally opened it was like watching the film from Schindlers List where the crowd come over the top of the hill, it was one of the best signings we have done but also one of the most stressful, but we raised thousands.
During the summer we attended all the normal airshows fundraising and enjoyed meeting all of our customers.
'RAF Bentley Priory' by Nicolas Trudgian
As we approached the winter of we started planning with Nicolas Trudgian a book on his stunning pencil work. We set up a partnership called ‘The Flying Pencil’. With a lot of planning we launched the book Nicolas Trudgian’s Aviation sketchbook, we had a lot of veterans attending including two Mustang Aces Don Strait and Al Rigby.
Nicolas Trudgians 'Aviation Sketchbook'
After Duxford being so successful and with the help of our great friend in America Brett we managed to do a book launch at the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center at the National Air and Space Museum Dulles. It was great meeting all our American collectors and we were a bit overwhelmed at how many of you made the long journey to come and meet us.
Over the winter months we published another print with Nick called ‘The Biggin Hill Wing’.
This was signed by veterans who flew as part of the Wing in 1941.
‘The Biggin Hill Wing’ by Nicolas Trudgian
At this time we also got to know Valor Studios very well and they were planning a trip to the UK with four veterans from the legendary Band of Brothers, we planned the visit around the Flying Legends airshow.
Over this weekend I must say that having Don Marlaky, Brad Freeman, Ed Tipper and Buck Compton signing with us made it the busiest signing event we have ever done!
We even had to have people standing at the rear of the marquee stopping people disturbing the veterans whilst they were having their lunch.
At the September Duxford airshow we were very proud to launch Gils book of his Aviation Art. We had a great turnout of veterans from the Battle of Britain and Bomber Command signing books all weekend. After the show we took Gil and Alice on site seeing tours for a few days, before they flew back to the States.
During the Winter and into the Spring of 2010 we started planning the big commemorations for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
I approached Nicolas Trudgian for an idea for a print of a local spot where we live which is the seven sisters and the Exceat estuary for the River Cuckmere.
This print would become ‘A Summer for Heroes’ and was published to raise funds for the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust with the top end of the edition having no fewer than fifty Battle of Britain signatures! Prince Michael of Kent kindly endorsed the print.
We spent many months collecting the signatures and when it was released July Duxford we had ten of the Few with us. It was a superb weekend raising more funds for the Trust at the signing event.
As a trustee of the Battle of Britain Trust we were invited to sit with the veterans at Westminster Abbey. We got there an hour before, through security and sat in our seats when our great friend Wing Commander Bob Foster came over and as I stood up he told me they had their Battle of Britain Fighter Association meeting the previous evening and I was made an honoury member of their association for all the fund raising that I had done for them. I couldn’t even speak, I had such a lump in my throat and it is still my greatest honour.
During the Spring at one of the Trust meetings it was put forward that we should have a new building at Capel-le-Ferne, it was put forward that we should have the shape of a Spitfire wing and we all agreed instead of having one we decided it would be better to have two Spitfire elliptical wings.
And what did we let ourselves in for, after countless fundraising events we managed to raise the money privately!
One of our most memorable fund raising events was at the RAF club at the end of the battle dinner.
Rose and I were in charge of acquiring the auction and silent auction prizes. One morning I went over to see Bob for a coffee and was talking to him about the auction. He said wait a minute and off he went upstairs, he came back down and threw his Battle of Britain urvin jacket at me and his exact words were ‘see what you can do with that’ I was speechless. Off I went home with the jacket under my arm and to Rose’s dismay it hung in our lounge for a month!
Two days before the event I went back over to Bob and Keathe and he said I have something else. He gave me his escape map so I rushed home and framed it as a last minute main auction prize.
Well what a night! The urvin made £18,000 and the escape map made £5000. At the end of the evening we were all bleary eyed and fuzzy from the beer. I walked over to Bob and he just couldn’t believe it. He gave me a big hug and said ‘that went quite well’. It is still one of my greatest moments with the trust, and to be able to share it with a true friend is even better.
During the next two years it was just a blur, frantically trying to raise money for ‘The Wing’.
I drove Bob down for the photo shoot of him sitting in the JCB for photos of the footings being dug. Bob spoke to the driver who started it up and Bob had a go at digging the first footings.
In between the fundraising Nick and I started to collect signatures for the next few projects. The tints were printed and I was on the road again. I drove down to Italy which took two days one way to meet General Metellini who flew with the Italian airforce over Malta. We also travelled all over the UK visiting veterans, we would always pay them if they wanted the money or donate it to the charities of their choice.
During the next two years we were still exhibiting at Duxford and publishing with Nicolas Trudgian.
For our next project we decided to publish a print commemorating the historic siege of Malta. With the help of General Metellini’s son and our friend Dr Steve Bond, we managed to get all the markings for his aircraft.
With everything crossed we took the signed paper to the printers and Fortress Malta was produced.
As we approached the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and Vectors 25th Anniversary Nicolas was again at the easel painting ‘For King and Country’
With the unveiling of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trusts wing in March 2015 by The Queen and Prince Philip and countless hours going round the shops with Rose for a new outfit the day had arrived. The rain was just as terrible as it was when the Queen Mother initially opened the memorial, all standing in line for nearly an hour with security everywhere. As soon as the queen arrived they all seemed to have disappeared, one of my proudest moments of being introduced to her. The entire thing just seemed to go so fast.
At the July airshow at Duxford we had five of the few with us helping with raising funds to have a tree placed at the National Arboretum to commemorate the fallen from the Battle of Britain.
Rose and I had the privilege of attending the 75th Anniversary service of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey, where we looked after our dear friend Ken Wilkinson.
Sadly as his eye sight was failing he struggled to get about. But it didn’t stop him having a glass of red wine with us.
After an enormous amount of consideration and heartache we decided that the September show would be our last Battle of Britain signing event, it was just getting too difficult, the veterans still wanted to come but having the responsibility of having them with us if anything was to happen I would have never of forgiven myself.
As you can see from the photos we still managed to block the aisle with the customers that supported us and the trust as if it was like one of our first signing events.
Sadly over the coming years we have lost our dear veteran friends who supported us at fundraising events and signings and we continue to miss them terribly but the memories will be with us forever.
When we approached the Autumn Rose came up with the idea about opening a Studio to showcase our products and give our customers the opportunity to meet us in person.
With the help of her brother Alan we set about converting the existing store into a Studio. After lots of hard labour we proudly opened the studio in December 2015 with the help of our granddaughter Annabelle.
We sat back for a breather and was talking to Nick again about a new print. Years previously I managed to collect the signatures of five Hurricane pilots who fought in the Battle of France.
‘The Road to Dunkirk’ was published in 2018 and was a great success because not much had been published on the Battle of France.
‘The Road to Dunkirk’ by Nicolas Trudgian
We still attended the airshows but started to throttle back a little bit and decided that after 25 years I would retire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust to have more time with the Grandchildren.
We would continue attending the Duxford airshows and launch new prints and books, I still enjoy the airshows immensely but its not the same without the veterans.
In 2019 I wanted to publish a print as a tribute to our great friend and supporter Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum. He had signed the paper about two years previously. The print was ‘At the going down of the Sun’
I used to have such a nice time with Geoffrey at official events. One nice story is after all the official speeches and formalities had happened he would say to me “can we disappear and have a quiet pint” and off we would go to the running Horse pub in the basement of the RAF club.
As we got into 2020 how the world changed!
Losing all the airshows but still being in contact with our customers and friends through the internet. It wasnt as busy but steady and through all of it we still managed to produce a stunning new print by Nicolas Trudgian as a tribute to another great friend of ours Wing Commander Paul Farnes called ‘The Valiant Few’
After a few difficult years for everybody and everything starting to return to some degree of normality we continue to remain in touch with our customers and friends. We have begun to attend airshows again and we look forward to seeing all of you.