A huge public backlash against plans to close Wellesbourne Airfield gathered momentum this week, with celebrities joining calls for the owners to rethink their position.
An online petition demanding that the airfield is saved has attracted more than 4,200 signatures since it started this month, while celebrity aviator Carol Vorderman has swung her weight behind the campaign.
The star, formerly of Countdown and more recently I’m a celebrity Get Me Out of Here, posted a series of tweets earlier this month encouraging people to sign the petition, and her involvement is seen as a real boost for those determined to keep aircraft flying at Wellesbourne.
Landed Aviation, the Wellesbourne based group of pilots and aviation enthusiasts who started the petition, say they are planning to organise a special fly-in to Wellesbourne in January to highlight the airfield’s plight.
Carol has already pledged to take part in any such event, while Landed Aviation are hoping to get other big names involved, including Matt Dearden from Channel 4’s Worst Place To Be A Pilot.
Speaking exclusively to the Herald Carol Vorderman praised the actions of Stratford District Council this week, after they stepped in to prevent the imminent demolition of buildings at the airfield.
Carol said: “It’s amazing news and I would personally like to thank Stratford District Council for being people of action, it’s fantastic to see people reacting so decisively and in such a committed manner.
“Wellesbourne was one of the first places I flew into when I learnt to fly three years ago, it has certainly been a key part of my journey.
“It’s a wonderful airfield there’s a lot of great people there and it’s got a fantastic café. Wellesbourne Airfield is critical to the area and nobody is building airfields anymore, if it goes it will be permanently lost.
“The biggest problem is the change in Government legislation to cope with the shortage of housing. It has meant all airfields are now classed as brownfield, leading to around a quarter of airfield across the country now being under threat. It’s all just about making money and it is something we’re campaigning to change.
“I only found out about the petition to save the airfield at the weekend when I got back from Australia, I kept tweeting about it and it went up by around 1,000 signatures.
“I think the threat of demolition from the landowners was a dirty trick.”
Glen Eldridge, of Landed Aviation, added: “I have been shocked at the support this petition has received, we only expected a handful of signatures and now we’ve got more than 4,200. We got more than 600 overnight when Carol Vorderman started tweeting about it and it’s gone global now, we’ve got supporters from New York, Canada and Singapore.
“We’re so pleased that Carol had lent us her support. She said she is going to join the fly-in to Wellesbourne and we’ve also sent messages to (Top Gear presenters) Richard Hammond, who flies helicopters, and James May.”
Matt Timms, who runs the Touchdown Café at Wellesbourne Airfield, added: “It’s great to have high profile people like Carol supporting us, she’s been on TV a lot recently and she used to drop by in Wellesbourne as she was learning to fly. Quentin Willson is always happy to support us too and they all understand what an important little airfield this is.”
To sign the petition to save Wellesbourne Airfield visit www.change.org/p/stratford-district-council-save-welllesbourne-airfield-from-demolition