ISSUE 11, October 2004
Elias Ashmole: Masonic Icon
Travel: The magical beauty of Scotland
Honoured: By the Glovers' livery company
The Theatre: Strong links between Craft and stage
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Mauritius: Fascinating Masonic history
Rochester Cathedral: Kent Masons' magnificent fresco
Clerkenwell: 25 years of Masonry
  Bravery award: One Mason's heroism is honoured
Christmas shopping: What to buy in London's West End
High flight: Helping terminally ill children
Jewels of the Craft: An essential part of Masonry
Library & Museum: John Pine exhibition and Library & Museum Trust report
Masonic education: Events for Masons; Quatuor Coronati Lodge; Mentors for new Masons
Charities: Masons provide emergency aid for flood victims; Charity news; Demelza gives voice
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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High Flight

High Flight helps terminally ill and disadvantaged youngsters, as Stratton Richey explains.

Reach for the sky


Three years ago a special organisation devoted to children who are terminally ill or who come from a disadvantaged background was set up – High Flight – which has already achieved considerable success.
    As a British Airways Boeing 747 captain, I know the thrill of flying, but I and others wanted to give this experience to these unfortunate youngsters, and the idea of High Flight was born.
    As a Freemason I was well aware of the immense benefits that charitable organisations – both Masonic and non- Masonic – can give, but actually starting up such a body was a new experience.
    Since High Flight was formed more than a thousand youngsters have taken to the air in gliders and, in addition, some 900 children in need of special care due to mental and sexual abuse have been taken to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
    High Flight has also sponsored eight flying scholarships for the disabled and has also come together with the MS Society to enable sufferers of multiple sclerosis to take to the air.
    One such beneficiary was Julie who, at the age of 22, was an active sportswoman, a good musician and had a full career ahead of her. A year later she felt the first pains in her joints, and two years later arthritis was diagnosed.
    At 28 she had her second hip replacement and was in a wheelchair at 30. But she had always wanted to fly, and following a tough selection process, she went to Atlanta, Georgia, for flying training. She had to go alone, as part of the deal was to be unaccompanied. She triumphed over adversity.
    In 2000 she attended the Royal Aeronautical Society annual banquet to tell 750 guests her own story, travelling from Norwich to London without a wheelchair – something the doctors had not thought possible.
    Then there is the story of Robin Gibbons, a First Officer with Virgin Atlantic, piloting a 370-tonne Boeing 747-2000 But in January 2001 he ran off the road in his car on black ice, and broke his back at thoracic vertebrae three/four. His lesion was certified complete and he was now permanently paralysed from the middle of his chest down.
    But his father was an inspiration, telling Robin to look on it as another phase of his life. So he went through a rehabilitation process, and last year his thoughts again turned to flying.
    So he went to a special organisation, Aviation for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics (APT), booked a flight on his birthday, and has never looked back. It was a moving experience – it was his first solo flight for more than 13 years.
    Robin swam for the Aspire National Training Centre’s annual ‘Channel’ swim, the equivalent of crossing the English Channel, covering the 22 miles in 40 hours 25 minutes, with only his arms to propel himself through the water.
    High Flight raises funds to help individuals like Robin and organisations such as APT to fund flying. But High Flight is a small charity and relies totally on donations. We seek monthly donations of between £10 and £20. By using the Gift Aid Scheme (I will send the forms or they can be downloaded from the website) High Flight will be able to claim back some of the tax. It costs £25 for a glider flight, so a donation of £10 a month will sponsor six youngsters after tax relief has been claimed.

Beacon, a new charitable initiative which raises the profile of philanthropy in the UK, in 2003, its inaugural year, gave Stratton Richey a highly commended award for his efforts with High Flight. The Beacon Prize is awarded to individuals who are an inspiration to others in the way that they give – be it time, money or expertise. Beacon chief executive Emily Stonor commented: “In an almost impossibly difficult process, with many hundreds of outstanding nominations, Stratton Richey’s achievements stood out as exceptional.”

Stratton Richey, a London Metropolitan Grand Steward, is chairman of High Flight

For more information or to send donations contact:
High Flight, P.O. Box 392
Ashford, Kent TN27 9YQ
Tel: 01233 756366 Fax: 01233 756170
Web site: