One of the delights of selling at craft fairs is to meet people who are interested in our products, the designs and how we make them.
Three years ago we found a Spitfire embroidery design for a hand towel – just right, we thought for gentlemen who are difficult to buy for. It’s a lovely, detailed design, but we knew we had to take great care to get the colours right.
The second person to look at the towel was, we were told, 90 years old. It turned out this delightful chap had flown Spitfires in WW2 and was happy to share some of his memories with us …Yes it had been a lovely plane, and we have got the colours right…up to a point. Cue feelings of worry for me, but then a smile gave the game away – our Spitfire was how they looked when they were delivered – his got rather shot up, and when the repairs were made, they didn’t worry too much about paint shades – it was whatever was close to hand, including yellow!
He bought a towel and we shook his hand. One of the unforgettable ‘few’, and a moment we’ll treasure.
A lady bought a Spitfire towel for her father who had early alzheimer disease, he was having trouble remembering to wash. He had worked on plane engines all this life and loved Spitfires and like the gentleman above when his mind was on planes all was well. She thought that the love of planes and the fact that it was on a towel might just prompt his memory to wash use the towel to dry.
At a recent Christmas fair we met a lady who was part of the ground crew of women employed at the airbases from which the Spitfires flew. One of their roles was to keep the bases spotlessly clean for safety reasons. It was the next role she told us about that we think is an untold story... they had the very important job of boosting morale of the men when they landed after their planes, and nerves where shot to pieces. It was the ladies job to get these men who were badly shaken by events back into the air as quickly as the planes could be patched up and refuelled. She felt that if they had not been there to help and encourage, these men may well have not been able to return to the air. She was a remarkable 91 year old who still attends a gym - a real role model!
More Spitfire news ... a neighbour has just told me that her job when the Spitfires came down from a mission was to clean the perspex screen and top of the plane before it went back up into the air. She said it would be covered in scratches which she removed with Duraglit. It took time and effort, made her arms ache like mad but what a good job to do, our pilots could see!
There is a wonderful book called 'A Spitfire Girl' by Mary Ellis which has been published to mark her 100th birthday. She flew 1,100 journeys as First Officier with the Air Transport Auxiliary in West Sussex. The planes were twin seaters and flew at 275 mph she said 'love the Spitfire - it's my favourite aircraft, it's everyone's favourite, it's the symbol of freedom'. There are many resources about this remarkable lady on the Internet - absolutely fascinating women!