Meet the Team
Museum Founder and Curator 26.01.1942 – 16.10.2013.
I joined the museum at the age of ten in 1979 after badgering my parents to allow me to volunteer. Luckily Dave Buchanan (the original chairman) and Len Green, both of the then Brenzett Aeronautical Museum allowed me to join and took me under their wing from the beginning of the planned museum at Hawkinge. A short time later Brenzett amalgamated with the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, from Chilham Castle, and I met Mike Llewellyn, Tony Parslow and others. All became inspirational in encouraging me to expand my knowledge of the Battle of Britain, to hunt for the crash-sites of long forgotten aircraft, educated me in the skills of research and down to more practical skills in such things as wood and metalwork, which I still use on a daily basis.
At the age of seventeen I became a Trustee and then was very honoured to become the Museum Chairman in 1990 (the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle) and after Dave Buchanan retired.
I have been very privileged to have known and be friends of about 400 of 'The Few' and around 50 former Luftwaffe Battle of Britain airmen, all of whom I have met through my work within the Museum. I used to juggle my work commitments with school and then work, but in 2008 the business I was working for failed and I took the massive and difficult decision to become a full-time volunteer.
Volunteering and running the museum is hard work but every day I remember and commemorate my hero's 'The Few' and by doing so, make sure others remember them too.
My first connection with the museum was in 1980 when it first came to Hawkinge but owing to work commitments I had to stop until I retired in 2004, then it was back to volunteering which I enjoy and I particularly like meeting the different visitors that come during the year. I especially enjoy a coach of veterans who always have a good story to tell, but also the young school children who make for an interesting day with some unusual questions.
I became a Trustee in 2015. Everyone is very appreciative of the work carried out by the museum volunteers.
I met Mike Llewellyn sometime after finishing my National Service in Germany with the Queens Royal Regiment and, in 1964, he invited me to join his small group of friends, spending weekends recovering the wrecks of Battle of Britain aircraft. In those days it was just a hobby with no idea of anything as formal as an established museum, but over time the collection grew.
The publication in 1969 of 'Battle over Britain' written by Frank Mason, with the involvement of my brother Martin, was a great help with our searches and so that small group has now become the leading Battle of Britain museum in the world, supported by over 40 volunteers, with whom it is my greatest pleasure to work.
I started volunteering with the Brenzett Aeronautical Museum in the 1970's before the Museum joined forces with Mike Llewellyn and the Kent Battle of Britain Museum, which was then housed at Chilham Castle, and at the time we were relocating to the former RAF Hawkinge Airfield to form the Hawkinge Aeronautical Museum Trust…. Today's Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust.
I was instrumental in setting up the Limited Company Trust and obtaining Charitable status in 1982.
I am a retired chartered accountant and the Museum's Company Secretary and accountant.
I guess it all started when I was younger. My mum took me to see the Battle of Britain motion film with a talk as well back then. A memory was planted and much later I visited the Kent Battle of Britain Museum which immediately inspired me by what was on show.
The museum is a people museum. Pilots, groundcrew and yes the planes are wonderful, but it's the pilots stories that grace a place in your mind, and to volunteer it's is my privilege to keep 'The Few' memories alive for are guests.
When I retired in 2010 I was looking for somewhere to offer my services as a volunteer. My wife was looking on the internet and found the Kent Battle of Britain Museum. I applied and found a world of information on the Battle of Britain, met some fantastic fellow volunteers and visitors but most of all I had the opportunity to meet some of 'The few'.
I am extremely proud to work here and help to keep the memories of those brave men and women who played a major part in preventing an invasion of our island. We also remember the brave German pilots who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Joined the volunteers in January 2018 after visiting the museum and attending a talk by the museum chairman at HAC at Duxford in 2017.
I first became are of the Museum at their RAF 100 Celebrations in June 2018 when as the standard bearer for the Royal British Legion Hythe and Saltwood Branch I attended this event.
Shortly afterwards I volunteered to help at the Museum. I also wanted to contribute to their work in commemorating 'The Few.'
My story started with the Museum back in 2010 when I first visited the museum itself, from that day I became a frequent visitor that would visit up to 7 times a year sometimes more, I became good friends with Dave, Mike and the volunteers along the way.
My association with the museum as a volunteer started in December 2017 when I received a phone call from the Dave asking whether I would like to help out in moving the Bristol Blenheim a few days later from IWM Duxford. After picking myself up from the floor I gladly accepted, I felt very privileged to of been asked and have been a volunteer ever since, helping out with the restoration of the Blenheim and around the museum, I have been made very welcome by all at a Museum that has such a fantastic future ahead of it and I feel very lucky to be a small part of, as every day is different and full of surprises.
I have always had a love of aircraft and flying. My father was a Flight Engineer on Lancaster's at the end of the Second World War. I flew with my father at the age of three and from then all I wanted to do was to learn to fly. Sadly, this wasn't to be my profession, but at the age of 23 I did obtain my private pilot's licence and spent many happy hours flying. I joined the museum in 2004. I enjoy the camaraderie of the volunteers and have made many friends. The museum is the nest for presenting the history of the Battle of Britain and has many unique artefacts. I enjoy meeting the visitors, in particular the older generations who relate their experiences during the war.
I have been a proud volunteer of The Kent Battle of Britain Museum since 2010. At that time I had been lucky enough to spend some time with the late Bill Green (501 Squadron, 1940) and he was insistent that I pay a visit to 'the worlds finest Battle of Britain collection'. Bill and I went onto become good friends and for his introduction to Dave Brocklehurst Mbe and this incredible museum I will be forever grateful. To say I was staggered after my first visit is an understatement! Never before or since have I seen a more evocative and intensely personal collection of artefacts, each forming a lasting memorial to the pilots involved. So much to see and so much to learn. The Kent Battle of Britain Museum commemorates the achievements and sacrifice made by pilots of all nationalities and pays homage to an incredible generation of people. Housed in some of the original buildings of RAF Hawkinge, you cant help but lose yourself to nostalgia as music from the era plays and you wander around reading one compelling story after another. A visit to the museum is a visit back to our nation's finest hour.
I am proud to have met and known Mike Llewlyn Mbe (the museums founder) in his latter years and regard it as a privelage to play my small part in the history of a museum whos origins date back to 1966. Bill was right, it truly is the world's finest Battle of Britain collection...
When I took early retirement in January 2013, I was told by a long-standing volunteer, Pat, (who is my daughter-in-law's father) that they were looking for someone to take over the wartime Dig for Victory Garden and as he knows I am a keen amateur gardener I was asked if I would be interested. As I have always been interested in the Second World War, I was given the brief by the Chairman, Dave, to follow the advice in the Dig for Victory book written by C. H. Middleton. I grow where ever possible known verities of vegetables and follow gardening principles at the time. I also enjoy listening to the public stories of the time so I can add it to what I do.
I've always been interested in military history, especially aviation, and first visited the museum over 20 years ago.
I visited again in 2017 and was surprised and impressed at how much the museum had expanded. This it continues to do with many new projects in the pipeline.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the team of volunteers, to welcome visitors from around the world and to help them in remembering the events and the characters involved in 1940.
I have always been interested in the Battle of Britain and the impact on the Nation, having joined as a volunteer in May 2021 I enjoy assisting members of the public and learning the history
Having been interested in the Battle of Britain for many years and after attending the unveiling of the airfield memorial at the museum I ask Dave if I could become a volunteer having also being retired for a couple of years. He agreed and now I am able to help keep the memory alive of all those who gave so much to during the dark days of 1940.
At the age of 9 years I had a bout of one of those childhood illnesses that confine you to bed for a week and someone gave me a copy of a Biggles book to read.
From then on, I was a lost cause for anything that didn't involved flying and aeroplanes. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the RAF and was in paradise. After 12 years the Squadron I was on – 25 Squadron – didn't have aeroplanes anymore so I took a redundancy scheme and left. – plenty of Aeroplanes in Civvy street – I joined the VR()T and was with the Air Cadets doing various things retiring at 70 years.
The lure of the RAF has drawn me back to the Museum where I am lucky enough to be Volunteer Staff.
Answering an appeal for whitworth spanners and sockets was my introduction to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum in 2013. I was invited to bring the tools to Hawkinge and meet the team who were at the time working on the Commer Tractor Unit for the Queen Mary Recovery Trailer. An invitation to join the team led to a regular Wednesday working on the various mechanical units at the base has been challenging and very interesting – no computers or laptops!!
Probably our greatest success was when the WOT 1 (War Office Transport) Ambulance (V8 Pilot engine) fired up after 25 years – sounding as sweet as a nut!
As well as the mechanical side there is also helping with visitor supervision during the summer opening – this is one thing I enjoy talking to visitors from all over the world, introducing them to some of the hidden treasures at the Museum. School children from the UK and the continent seem to be especially interested when they learn that I slept in the Morrison indoor Air Raid Shelter during the War whilst living in Canterbury. It is very rewarding being involved with a living museum whose exhibits change from week to week.
I visited for many years and this eventually progressed into becoming a volunteer which I started doing about 10 to 15 years ago.
These people saved our country and need to be remembered, which I feel the Museum does superbly.
I joined the Museum as a volunteer on my retirement in 2016. As a long-term reader of Battle of Britain books, working at the Museum has brought to life everything I had only read about previously, and working with the walking Battle of Britain encyclopaedia that is Dave B. means that any question is instantly answered.
I first came to Hawkinge many years ago when it was much more like the airfield it had been and was such an evocative place to visit and pass the time imagining how it was.
I have always had a fascination with the Battle of Britain and , in particular, the generation of men and women who gave so much , including their lives, that we might live our lives in freedom.Their sacrifices would never be forgotten, along with all those who have served this country.
I started to volunteer in May 2020 as I had time available and wanted to give something back and play a small part in what the museum does brilliantly, which is to remember the human stories of those who took part. What I know now, is how much is done by Dave and all the volunteers to make this wonderful place , such a thought provoking place to visit for all ages.
(Sadly John relocated to the USA at the end of March 2021 but once settled he is hoping to create a roll for himself, still volunteering, and promoting the Museum in North America)
My first memories of my life long interest in the Battle of Britain and WW2 was my dad modelling I was lucky enough to have many trips going to museums all over as a young boy. Most of dad's models ended up hanging from my bedroom ceiling in "dogfight" scenarios.. I spent many fun days playing on the Manston Spit outside and the aircraft grave yard/fire dump. Throughout my life I've visited airshows and met our hero's collecting fine art and signatures. I have visited the Museum as a visitor/supporter for some years.
A few years ago I sent a email to Dave asking how the museum was over the winter and if they needed help or advice, i'd love to help. I had a immediate reply!!! Dave asked me to "pop down for a chat"... I was intrigued. Hawkinge is approx a 40 min drive so I went that evening. I was met by Dave and shown into the main hanger, and 3 part repaired hurricanes - "When can you start?" said Dave!!! It was all ok he gave me 3 weeks to get them done.
Being accepted at the museum is a dream for me. Giving back to preserve the memory of all involved in the battle of Britain. This culminated in meeting several of my hero's at our memorial opening. Whether it's painting aircraft, vehicles, making frames or repairing toilets volunteering is something I love.
Being a mechanic I am interested in all things with an engine. When being offered the opportunity to rebuild a Spitfire I jumped at the chance. Having a keen interest in the RAF and the Battle of Britain, I admire the dedication of the young men and women of that time and what they did for us.
I became a volunteer after watching the Boulton Paul Defiant arrive at the museum in February 2015.
I have been a volunteer at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum since 2004, originally, as a form of therapy following a family tragedy and health issues, but now the work at the museum has become a very important part of my life, particularly since my retirement from paid employment.
When I was a lad I lived at Farnborough, near Biggin Hill – which was then an operational RAF Base flying Meteors and Vampires. I was up there regularly watching the action. In 1958 I was out with my two brothers in woods near Cudham when we found the crashed remains of what I thought was a Spitfire. We rolled the Merlin engine down the slope and it landed up in a farmyard below. We removed some bits as mementos.
Fast forward sixty years and on a visit to this museum I mentioned my find to Dave Brocklehurst. He gave me details of 'my plane.' It was a Hurricane flown by Tom Gleave from RAF Kenley which had been shot down – the pilot survived badly burnt.
Parts of this Hurricane are in the Museum and the Merlin engine is on display at Duxford. Fascinated by this information I enquired if Dave needed anymore volunteers for the Museum. I started in July 2018 and learning as I went, I became aware that the Museum is more about the aircrew and their history – backed up by wonderful Battle of Britain exhibits. The Museum is a testament and a tribute to all those Servicemen and women who served during the Battle of Britain.
I retired in 2011 having moved to Hawkinge in 2007. I volunteered in 2011 and have been here ever since. A panel beater by trade so I have been able to contribute to the museum with my skills. I love meeting the different people that visit and listening to their stories. I also enjoy the banter between the volunteers.
I have always been a 'hands on' person and have undertaken several vintage vehicle restorations. From an early age I have had a fascination with aircraft and their construction. Following my retirement, in 2013, I contacted the Museum about becoming a volunteer so that I could follow my passion for historic aircraft.
As a Museum volunteer I really like meeting the visitors and talking to them about all the exhibits we have here, while at the same time, I learn something new each day and enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow volunteers.
I first started volunteering at the museum in 2006 shortly after I'd returned to live in Kent. I've been interested in the Battle of Britain since a Spitfire flew over my parents house in the 70's and my Dad told me of their history, and then took me to some museums & air shows which really gave me "the bug".
I had previously volunteered at Tangmere museum, despite which, on first approaching Mike and Dave regarding volunteering it was with trepidation being used to the "what interest would a female have in the Battle of Britain?" reaction, but I shouldn't have worried as I was warmly welcomed into the volunteer team and I know that any time I give is appreciated.
There's something for everyone at this wonderful museum, but the thing that drives us all is the awe and respect to all those brave young men, the heroes that we owe such a debt of gratitude to.
Of course, I should also mention the incredible knowledge of our self-effacing Chairman, Dave Brocklehurst MBE, if there's something he doesn't know about the Battle of Britain it ain't worth knowing.
I first visited the museum in 2013 and being a lover of World War 2 military history I was very impressed and at the end of my visit I asked David Brocklehurst and Richard Windrow if they needed any volunteers. "Definitely", was the answer and I have been there once a week ever since.
The museum is constantly trying to upgrade itself with new exhibits and I every time I visit I learn something new. It is very satisfying to help visitors with their questions and excellent to hear so many of them have enjoyed their visit. There is a great camaraderie amongst the volunteers and with David, and I look forward to my Tuesday and Thursday stints every week. An excellent place to volunteer and "put something back."
Scramble arrived at the museum in 2014, being a present from Dave's parents, and soon became the museum mascot. Very quickly becoming a supervisor with the volunteers and a firm favourite with museum visitors, having her own fan club
No longer with us - gone but not forgotten:
Museum Founder and Curator 26.01.1942 – 16.10.2013.
As a volunteer at the Museum I am very pleased to be helping to maintain the memory of a defining moment in the history of Great Britain.
Further, meeting so many people from not only the U.K. but from all round the world is very satisfying and rewarding.
Hi! I'm Pat. I started volunteering at the museum in 2004 in response to an advertisment that David Brocklehurst had placed in the local paper. I had just retired from the Health Physics Department at Dungeness Power Station.
I quickly came to love my time here and have totally enjoyed it. All the volunteers are great and we have a good laugh together, also it is great to have so many new volunteers joining us and mucking in.
So if you want an inspirational day out, come and visit the museum!