The CEO’s Charity of the Year – Aerobility

Our first nominee as ‘charity of the year’ was ‘Aerobility’, which gives terminally ill and disabled people the chance to fly.

Our aim was to raise £100,000 to help them buy a specially adapted light aircraft so they could extend the joy of flying to even more people.

All this stemmed from the air traffic control branch of the trade union Prospect, which first got involved with Aerobility in January 2011. They persuaded NATS’ Chief Executive Richard Deakin to also support Aerobility as the CEO’s charity of the year.

How Our Contribution Was Raised…

Our employees were amazing and the level of commitment and support for Aerobility across our organisation was remarkable. In 2012 we saw many members of NATS getting involved in supporting the project, with people often going to extreme lengths to raise enough cash, under the banner of ‘do something BIG!’

In ‘The BIG Pull’, NATS teams from across the country competed to be the fastest to pull a Second World War Harvard aircraft down the home straight on Goodwood’s famous racetrack. The event, which also included a gala dinner, was organised by Prospect and raised £35,000 over one ‘BIG Weekend’.

Elsewhere, six members of staff from NATS’ Prestwick control centre raised £2,100 by each completing a five mile swim. NATS staff at Luton Airport even scaled the equivalent height of Mount Everest by repeatedly climbing the control tower.

Other events included a sponsored long distance motorcycle ride, a 13 hour game of tennis, a sky dive, an Olympic treadmill run equivalent to the distance from our head office in Fareham, Hampshire, to the Olympic Stadium and back (170 miles), and countless other activities from cake bakes and raffles to marathons, waxing’s and mountain climbing.

Richard Deakin also personally contributed by raising £4,200 when he completed a 150km non-stop glider flight.

After a year’s impressive fundraising by people across NATS, £155,000 was raised, far exceeding the initial target.

The Presentation

In October 2012, a brand new Tecnam aircraft was presented to Aerobility in front of invited guests and dignitaries at the charity’s headquarters at Blackbushe Airport. Joined by Prospect Union representatives and NATS people, CEO Richard Deakin said: ‘I am incredibly proud of NATS fundraising. This brand new, specially modified aircraft that we’re handing over today is the crowning achievement of a year of non-stop fundraising which would not have been possible without the involvement of all of our people.’

Where Next?

Our relationship with Aerobility continues. While the presentation of the new aircraft marked the end of ‘all things BIG’, people at NATS quickly embarked on Aerobility’s next fund raising initiative – an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records by ‘flying’ around the world, non-stop for 10 days in a flight simulator. It seems that this is just the beginning of our connection with the charity.

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