Monday 27th July 2020
A Hampshire man has published a play dramatising the story of Spitfire designer R. J. Mitchell. The play, Mitchell’s Wings, was originally written and directed by Johnny Carrington 10 years ago. Sales of the play will raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.
Johnny Carrington, a teacher who lives in Southampton, felt there wasn’t enough being done to celebrate the iconic Spitfire. He was inspired to write the play after discovering that although many of his pupils could recognise a Spitfire, none of the students knew that it first flew from Eastleigh airport or that the designer lived in Southampton.
“As an aviation fanatic and a drama teacher, writing this play seemed like the perfect solution to raise the profile of this local treasure. I wanted to use real testimonies to tell the story, so I started by interviewing Gordon Mitchell, the son of R. J. Mitchell, the Spitfire’s designer. I eventually interviewed more people than I could include; I joke that I could have written this play three times over!
“It’s important to remember not only of the sacrifices that were made by so many brave men and women, but also just what young people are capable of. Many of the pilots were barely 18 years old, with so much resting on their shoulders. It should inspire young people that they are also capable of resilience and courage in their own walks of life.”
Earlier this year, the RAF Benevolent Fund launched a competition inviting the public to write an audio drama about the Battle of Britain – although Mitchell’s Wings is unrelated to this project. The winning entry, which will be announced on 27 July, will feature as a bonus episode for the second series of the Fund’s All Stations podcast.
The RAF Benevolent Fund provides financial, emotional, and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families. This includes grants to help with financial difficulty, free memberships for Headspace, Airplay youth clubs, and more.
Heather Kemp, Regional Fundraiser at the RAF Benevolent Fund, added:
“The creativity of our supporters never fails to astound me. Sales of Mitchell’s Wings will help us continue to support members of the RAF Family for years to come, so I’d like to say thank you on behalf of everyone here at the RAF Benevolent Fund.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund has introduced a weekly Check and Chat service for RAF veterans and expanded its Telephone Friendship Groups service to allow more veterans to join a weekly call. It has made £2,500 available for each RAF station to provide an activity and wellbeing pack for RAF children and launched Airplay Connect, an online version of its youth support service.