Severn Hospice furniture store manager, Andy Perkins, was interested in a different sort of hangar when he fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition to take to the skies in a Spitfire.
Swapping his daytime role for barrel rolls over the white cliffs of Dover was an experience he’ll never forget and something he’d wanted to do since watching the Battle of Britain film as a child.
“My brother took me to see it when I was six and I’ve been obsessed by aircraft ever since,” said Andy, who has managed the furniture store for two-and-a-half years.
His inspiration to make his dream came true comes from his work to raise funds for Severn Hospice and what he does outside of work.
“I spend my spare time looking after veterans and whether you are elderly, living with an incurable illness, or just living your life – that is what you must do – live,” he said.
“I felt a thousand different emotions while I was flying. With the white cliffs up ahead, I couldn’t stop thinking about how those young pilots must have felt flying in the Battle of Britain in 1940 when Spitfires and Hurricanes helped save the nation. It was breath-taking.
“It’s been said that you don’t climb into a Spitfire, you put it on. And I did. It was such an experience. To fly such an iconic aircraft, worth £3.5 million in today’s money, going 300mph, with an engine sound that is recognisable miles away; I would love to do it again.
“I took the controls and even did a loop and two victory rolls. I had a massive grin on my face the whole time.”
He said working for Severn Hospice is also something he loves: “When I started at the furniture store I saw the empty building and I had a vision of making it unique. Since then I’ve seen it become such a success; our volunteers do exceptional jobs, the shop has a brilliant reputation and customers adore the place.
“Working for the hospice is so rewarding. I’ve managed supermarkets with a £65 million turnover but it feels so much better to raise £100 for the hospice because you know every penny is going to help families when they need it most,” he said.