Happy New Year one and all!
As we celebrate our third birthday and enter the fourth year of The People’s Mosquito project – yes we really have been at this for three years now! – it is perhaps worth pausing for a moment to consider where we are, and where we are going from here. 2014 was a busy and positive year for the project. We launched our fundraising activities, including the launch of the TPM Shop and attendance at a number of airshows; announced a new patron; firmed up our plans to rebuild RL249 as an FB Mk.VI and, perhaps most importantly, started to cut wood on the Mosquito’s wing ribs.
Our supporter numbers and general public impact have grown significantly this year, and as we have done in the past at this time of year, we’d like to share some trivia with you first before getting onto the serious stuff.
The website visitor numbers are almost doubled for the past twelve months, with 81,000 visitors to the site in 2014! That’s about two days’ attendance at RIAT or just over four sell-out shows at the O2 Arena! Visitors came from far and wide – 136 countries to be precise – from the UK to the US, from Mongolia to Mali and from Nicaragua to Nepal. Unsurprisingly the UK sits at the top of the list, followed by the US and Canada. The site has now had just over 182,000 views since we launched it in early 2012. We added 21 posts in 2014 and uploaded 145 pictures – that’s about three pictures a week. The comments section has again proved popular this past year. Please keep the comments coming on our “Say Hello” page – as we like to say, comments are free to make and your voice is important to us.
Our Facebook Page has gained 1,352 new “Likes” since this time last year, almost doubling to 2,920, with our most popular post – regarding our new patron – having been seen by over 11,000 people. Our Supporters’ Facebook Group now has over 1,600 members, again almost doubling over the past twelve months. If you are on Facebook and have not yet “liked” our Page or joined the Supporters’ Group, please take a minute to do so – we would much appreciate your support. We’ve had some great comments and conversations taking place on both pages and it has been really useful for us to not only share info but to learn stuff and make friends and contacts too! There have also been some great Mosquito images and stories posted by supporters – for which we are very grateful.
Our Twitter account (@peoplesmosquito) has seen over 2,000 new followers over 2014. Again this has almost doubled the number we had at this time last year, at just over 4,600 and we’ve tweeted over 1,900 times in the last twelve months – an average of around 5.25 tweets a day! We’ve enjoyed some great discussions and links and seen some wonderful images over the past year, and the conversation continues at www.twitter.com/peoplesmosquito, so please feel free to join in.
To coincide with the launch of our fundraising we released a long version of our promo video – the “XL” version – which features the complete colour footage shot by Navigator F/O Brian Harris of the daylight raid by 627 Sqn. RAF on Deelen Airfield in Holland on 15th August 1944. This has proved very popular.
The Serious Stuff
Moving on to the nitty-gritty now. We were honoured this summer by one of the most famous pilots in history. In July we met with the famed test pilot, Capt. Eric “Winkle” Brown, RN, to discuss the potential of him supporting our project and becoming our patron. He generously agreed. As many of you know “Winkle” Brown was the first man to land a heavy twin-engined aircraft on a carrier – not an easy feat by any measure. The aircraft he landed on the deck of HMS Indefatigable on 25th March 1944 was none other than a de Havilland Mosquito, one of his favourite aircraft. You can find out more about our patron here .
In the early summer we launched our fundraising activities with the launch of the “Wing Rib Campaign” and to this end we opened the TPM Shop and announced our first airshow attendances.
The shop has been busy since its launch, having received over 100 orders so far, but we need to do better. If every one of those visitors to the website purchased just one t-shirt (from which we make on average just £5) we would be looking at taking roughly the cost of one and a half Merlin engines! Not to mention the amount of exposure and impact we would get from 81,000 airshow visitors wearing our logo! There is a good range of items in the shop, from t-shirts and hoodies to caps, bags and teddy bears, so please take a look – we’re sure you’ll find something you or your loved ones will like. The shop offers regular discount events, so keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook and the website for notifications. The next discount event runs from the 9th to 13th January and offers you 15% off all items! (And don’t worry, that 15% doesn’t affect what goes to the fund). We will be publishing the discount code you will need to receive the discount in the next week or so. Visit bit/ly/TPMShop to take a look at the product range.
August 2nd saw the first outing of the TPM stand at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby Airshow (although we did have a low-key presence at Waddington and Yeovilton) and it proved very popular. We knew we had a great deal of work to do with those members of the public who are not social media users, and this was made manifestly clear by the number of new supporters and friends we found at East Kirkby and other events at Sywell, Duxford and Coningsby throughout the late summer. It would be fair to say that the team were rushed off their feet and we raised well over £2000 from those events alone. In 2015 we plan a much broader attendance across many more events, so keep a look out for us during this coming summer. To enable us to have more of a presence in the coming season we will be looking for volunteers to help on the stands. If you are interested, please get in touch with us at infoATpeoplesmosquito.org.uk. Let us know your location and any particular relevant knowledge – but don’t worry, we’re not necessarily looking for experts and if you are just an enthusiast, then that’s great too, it just helps us to know who’s who.
Of course the main buzz during the 2014 season was the visit in August of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Lancaster, VeRA. The visit signalled once again that there is a clear interest in historic aviation and the desire to see another significant WW2 veteran return to the skies, and The People’s Mosquito project saw a marked boost due to that visit.
In September we reviewed the way the public can donate and employed the services of easyfundraising and Make-a-donation to make it easier for you to donate to the project. You can find out more on these services on our Donate page. Significantly a number of our supporters have set up monthly donations direct from their bank accounts and so the project receives regular sums from these. At one or two of the airshows we attended we were approached by individuals wishing to leave a legacy to the project. Details of how to do this can be found on our Donate page. Of course you can also make a one-off donation directly to our bank account – details for which are also on the Donate page.
All donations to The People’s Mosquito qualify for GiftAid which enables us to reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 donated, thereby increasing your donation by 20% at no further cost to you, and you can find out how to go about qualifying your donations here.
And don’t forget every direct contribution to our Wing Rib Campaign is automatically entered into our prize draw to win a unique Mosquito wood off-cut keyring.
In November we became the main UK distributor of the New Zealand-based Historical Aviation Film Unit’s superb “A Wooden Wonder Restored – de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito” – a package containing over two hours of footage of the restored Mosquito FB.26 KA114 available on DVD and Blu-Ray and which we are selling to raise funds for the project on eBay for £22 and £30 inc. p&p respectively. You’ll find further details here.
In 2014 we formalised and published our plan to return RL249 to flight. The budget is set at £5.68m – a huge sum, we agree, but a realistic one, and with your help we can achieve this. We have struggled to turn supporters into donors over the past twelve months and in 2015 we want – nay, need – to change that. But we need your help. Please spread the word at every opportunity, consider setting up a regular donation to the fund (even if it’s £5 per month) or just buy a couple of t-shirts or a DVD. It all goes in the pot and together we will achieve our vision of returning a UK-based Mosquito to British skies.
All in all, a good third year’s result and one that shows a continued growth in interest for the project. We just need to turn that interest into support of a financial nature!
As ever, our sincere gratitude goes to everyone who has donated, liked, followed, tweeted, posted, commented, visited, viewed, emailed or otherwise shown support for or interest in the project – we would be nowhere without you.
We hope you will all continue to support us into 2015 as we take the project forward.
Many thanks, and may we wish you all a Happy and Successful New Year.
The People’s Mosquito Team
(Just in case you missed it – our Donate page is here 😉 – thanks)