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Interview with Jim Schofield

Chief Pilot at Spitfires.com

Jim has wowed the crowds with his amazing aerial Spitfire displays at our Stansted Park Proms concerts for the last three years and will doing the same again this August. There is no mistaking the famous roar of the City of Exeter’s Merlin engine as it graces our skies.

Jim spent 20 years in the RAF as a fighter pilot and saw active service in Iraq in 2003. He was the lead British test pilot on the Harrier and F-35 programs and was the chief instructor on the Empire Test Pilots’ School. He finished in the RAF in 2016 as a Wing Commander and joined British Airways where he flew commercial airliners for the next 3 years. He then joined the Boultbee Flight Academy (now Spitfires.com) as their chief pilot. Jim was the first pilot to fly a century of fighter aircraft, from the 1917 Bristol Fighter to the F-35, and he has flown over 115 types, but the Spitfire is his favorite!

The thrill of flying a Spitfire never goes away according to Jim. Today’s modern aircraft are rightly full of safety measures and resilience if things go wrong – no such luxuries when flying a Spitfire. Still controlled by wire cables and pulleys the Spitfire requires hands-on skill at all times to remain in the air.

The Spitfire is still a comparatively light aircraft – two years ago when preparing for the show the wind was so strong that ground crew had to sit on the tail in order to reduce any risk of it flipping over while taxiing down the runway prior to take-off. In fact, during the war there is a famous story of a Spitfire unknowingly getting airborne with Leading Aircraftwoman Margaret Horton clinging to the tail – luckily, she was uninjured as the pilot detected something was wrong and landed immediately.

Spitfires.com – based at Goodwood Aerodrome – operate four Spitfires, two two-seaters used for Spitfire experiences, and two single seaters: the City of Exeter and G-IRTY, the Silver Spitfire.  It is the City of Exeter which is used for the concert’s displays and below is a brief history of the aircraft.

In performing his display Jim will enter the arena performing a breath-taking sequence of manoeuvres including loops, barrel rolls, victory rolls and Cuban Eights.

Although Jim cannot hear the music which accompanies his display, he is very conscious of the crowd cheering and waving the Union flags as he flies by the arena.

If you want to find out more on Spitfire Flight experiences visit www.spitfires.com and treat yourself to a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

The History of The City of Exeter Spitfire

RR232 was built in Castle Bromwich by Vickers Armstrong and delivered to the RAF in 1944 as an ‘HF.IX’ high altitude fighter where it was allocated to an anti-aircraft co-operation Squadron. It was then sold to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1948. It was then stored derelict at Salt River after being ‘ground looped’ in 1954. In 1976 it was bought by Australian collector Peter Sledge and restored to static display standard.

Spitfire RR232 finally made it back to Britain in 1986 but it was not until 2001 that current owner Martin Phillips bought the aircraft and began in earnest a full restoration to airworthy condition that would take nearly 13 years. With a fully rebuilt Merlin engine installed and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) happy that all had been done to the highest standards.

 

In December 2012 Spitfire RR232 took to the skies again and she is now known as the ‘City of Exeter’ in honour of a presentation Spitfire donated to the war effort as a result of local fundraising. That aircraft was presented to the Royal Air Force at RAF Westhampnett almost 75 years to the day before RR232 arrived at its present operating base where she flies off the very same grass runways, now known as Goodwood Aerodrome. RR232 is operated by Boultbee Flight Academy (now Spitfires.com)  in association with our friends at Tool Care Hire in Exeter, Devon

 

The Kent Tigers Parachute Display Team

Once again, we are delighted to announce that The Kent Tigers Parachute Display Team will be performing at each of our Proms Spectacular shows this summer. They will be jumping in support of our main charity  – Scotties Little Soldiers – for who we raised the amazing sum of £3,000 last year thanks to the generous donations from our audiences.

The Tigers Army Parachute Display Team was formed in 1986 under the watchful eye of Colonel P. V. Panton. The team were originally named “The Flying Dragons” due to being established from the Queens regiment, the team today have adopted the name “The Tigers”

The Tigers have performed at a large array of events throughout the years as far afield as Berlin, Kosovo, Cyprus, and more recently at the opening of the birthday celebrations for Her Majesty Queen Margrethe ll of Denmark, the Regiments Colonel in Chief and Formula 1 events.

Although ever changing the team’s past members have all added, in their own way, to the team’s legacy and just as their predecessors before them. The present members are constantly looking for ways to improve the team’s image.

The team provides additional support to the Army with an active role in recruitment and image promotion, which may include open days, “Look at Life” visits, leaflet drops and visits to events on the Army’s behalf.

If you would like to know further information about the Kent Tigers, please go to their website www.thetigersfft.co.uk

The Gardeners’ Gardening Show comes to Herstmonceux Castle in 2022

BEL Events is delighted to announce ‘The Gardeners’ Gardening Show’ at Herstmonceux Castle on 13th/14th/15th May 2022 featuring Carol Klein along with a number of well-known TV celebrities.

Tickets will go on sale on 1st February with a special early bird ticket price of £16 for adults and £8 for children.  Children under 5 free with a paying adult

Set in the idyllic grounds of Herstmonceux Castle in the heart of the East Sussex countryside, with their own beautiful and established garden ‘The Gardeners’ Gardening Show’ is a brand new event focussed purely on gardening and the challenges gardeners currently face and supporting British nurseries primarily from Kent and Sussex.

The focus of the show will be on a 400 seater marquee within which a number of well-known speakers will give talks throughout the day on a range of subjects from Bee-Keeping to ‘British Plants Rock’. We are thrilled that amongst the speakers will be Carol Klein, Mark Diacono (from ex River Cottage), Ben Cross and Robert Smith so watch out for our talks guide and come and to listen to your favourite speaker in the main marquee.

The attending nurseries (including a number of Chelsea medal winners) will be showcasing “Plants for all environments” from shady to hot and dry, from tropical to edible. It will cover plants for climate change through to re-wilding. In addition, the specialist nursery experts will be on hand to advice and answer questions.

We know that interest in gardening has burgeoned during the past difficult years and that gardening is a way to improve mental health and general well-being.

If you are really passionate about your garden and gardening, this is the place to be.

Gates open at 10:00am each day and close at 4:00pm Picnics are also allowed.  All Parking is free.

Tickets are available to purchase here and will include access to the castle gardens during the day.

For more information and to book tickets, visit the website at www.gardenersshow.co.uk

2022 Tribute Concerts

We are delighted to announce that this year we have a fantastic double act at our tribute concert featuring the Tina Turner Tribute – Simply the Best and the Abba Tribute – Abba Revival.

ABBA Revival

The award winning ABBA Tribute Band ‘Revival’ have recently been voted as the UK’s Official No.1 ABBA tribute act by the Agent’s Association of Great Britain. This renowned ABBA stage show has proved a hit time and time again in the UK and the world over, wowing audiences from Europe to the Middle East and just recently the band has been invited to perform a 5 day tour in ABBA’s homeland of Sweden.

The show includes faithful choreography, spectacular and authentic costumes, stunning production and, most importantly, excellent musicianship.
ABBA Revival takes their audience on a musical journey back to those heady pop-tastic disco days when ABBA ruled the dance floor! They’ll guarantee to get everybody dancing – even the biggest party grouch will be throwing shapes in no time.

Selling out shows throughout the UK and internationally for over 6 years, they are quite simply the premium ABBA experience.

Simply the Best

The spectacular Tina Turner tribute act “Simply The Best” embarked on a singing and entertainment career, honing her performance and learning the art of entertainment and stage presence from the cabaret circuit around the North West of England.  With her talents and bubbly vibrant personality she was soon to become established as a quality vocal entertainer,  rapidly progressing to build a reputation nationally.

Her performance as Tina Turner is incredible, as a lively bubbly energetic entertainer she has the exact mannerisms, vocals and costumes to take on this powerful performer. She reproduces the stage charisma of Tina.  She has presence, a magnetic personality teamed with a natural ability to hold an audience captive as she works her act to demonstrate her powerful vocal range – rich, warm, sensual, raw and rocky

The Pirates of Penzance

Pirates of Penzance comes to Stansted Park in 2022

BEL Events announces Pirates of Penzance at Stansted Park on 16th July 2022.

Following on from last July’s fantastic performance of ‘The Mikado’ Bel Events is delighted to announce that Opera Anywhere will be returning to Stansted Park to perform Gilbert & Sullivans much loved comic opera The Pirates of Penzance.

Synopsis:

The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert  and originally opened in  London 3rd April 1880, at the Opera Comique, where it ran for 363 performances.

The story concerns Frederic, who, having completed his 21st year, is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets the daughters of Major-General Stanley, including Mabel, and the two young people fall instantly in love. Frederic soon learns, however, that he was born on the 29th of February, and so, technically, he has a birthday only once each leap year. His indenture specifies that he remain apprenticed to the pirates until his “twenty-first birthday”, meaning that he must serve for another 63 years. Bound by his own sense of duty, Frederic’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.

Pirates was the fifth Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration and introduced the much-parodied “Major-General’s Song”. The opera was performed for over a century by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain and by many other opera companies and repertory companies worldwide. Modernized productions include Joseph Papp’s 1981 Broadway production, which ran for 787 performances, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and spawning many imitations and a 1983 film adaptation. Pirates remains popular today, taking its place along with The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore as one of the most frequently played Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

Tickets are on sale with a special early bird ticket price of £25 for adults and £15 for children.  Children under 5 free with a paying adult.

Concerts Raise over £3000 for Scotty’s Little Soldiers

BEL Events is extremely proud to announce that we raised over £3000 for the army charity ‘Scotty’s Little Soldiers’ thanks to the generosity of our customers who attended our concerts during the summer.

The cause was also supported by the Tigers Army Parachute Display team who jumped with the Scotty’s flag to open our Proms concerts at Stansted Park and the Three Counties showground at Malvern.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a charity dedicated to supporting children & young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.

Inspired by the experience of Army widow Nikki Scott following the death of her husband Corporal Lee Scott in Afghanistan in 2009, the charity is currently providing assistance to hundreds of bereaved Forces children and young people around the UK.

Their mission is to #HelpTheirChildrenSmile

 

If you wish to find out more about Scotty’s or even donate, please go to their website www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk