War veteran and long-serving volunteer at the Yorkshire Air Museum, George Martin, has become a Regional Winner and National Finalist in the Nationwide Community & Heritage Awards. Organised as a partnership between the Nationwide Building Society and the Heritage Lottery Fund, these awards recognise outstanding individual contributions to the nation’s heritage and community.One of three regional winners, George will be heading to the Tower of London on November 11th to fly the flag for the Yorkshire Air Museum at a glittering ceremony, where the national winners will be announced.
Now aged 88, having been born in Bradford on 28/8/1920, George has been coming to the Yorkshire Air Museum for the past 25 years as a volunteer. Along with a group of about 12 others, mostly from the York Air Gunners Association, he started work restoring the aircraft gun turrets and then creating the unique Air Gunners Room exhibition at the Museum. Until recently, George attended the Museum at least twice a week, but, as he is no longer able to drive, he now comes over twice a month from his home in Harrogate, when friends or family can bring him.
It is in recognition of this service and George’s extraordinary ability to talk to people about his experiences as an Air Gunner and Wireless Operator that the Museum put forward the nomination for these prestigious awards. The Museum receives many letters and comments from people who have enjoyed meeting George in the emotive surrounding of the Air Gunners Room. It is a rare gift to be able to recount often harrowing experiences in such an open, unassuming, but completely engaging manner.
Museum spokesman, Ian Richardson, commented: “We are absolutely thrilled that George Martin has been selected as a Regional Winner and Finalist in the Community and Heritage Awards. He has entertained literally thousands of visitors with his recollections over the years, and has enthralled many school groups. He nearly gave his life in service of his country and has continued to give of himself over a lifetime. We wish him every success and hope he may become a national winner – he certainly deserves it!”
George volunteered for the RAF in 1940 at Blackpool and after training was attached to 199 Squadron at Ingham, Lincolnshire, on Wellington Bombers as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. Returning from his 23rd mission on 23rd May 1943, over Dortmund, George’s aircraft was hit by flak and he was badly injured by shrapnel and burns and lost his thumb on one hand. Remarkably, the aircraft made it back to base, and George was hospitalised. His crew went out two nights later, and never returned. http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.co.uk