Sudbury: Pair to undertake around-the-world Spitfire charity challenge

A FATHER and son are planning a charity challenge like no other - flying a replica Spitfire around the world in a bid to raise �1 million.

Businessman Justin Collins, 38, believes the feat, which he is attempting with son Thomas, 16, will also lead to the setting of a new record.

The pair, who live in Tudor Road, Sudbury, will circumnavigate the globe in a 90%-scale replica of a Spitfire to raise funds for the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF).

Thomas, a sixth form student at Sudbury Upper School, was born with complex congenital heart disease which has seen him endure numerous medical procedures and surgery, something which will continue throughout his life.

At one stage his family nearly lost him after he went into cardiac arrest following open-heart surgery, but the doctors and nurses brought him back from the brink.


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Justin, who holds a private pilot’s licence, said because of Thomas’ health problems he had heard about the ICHF, which provides life-saving care for children in developing countries, and wanted to help them through his flying.

He said: “It is a long-held dream of wanting to go around the world in a plane and also it would be nice to be doing something with Thomas which would be a good experience for him.”

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Thomas, who is brother to Austin and Isabelle, said: “I think it will be really quite good actually. I think it will be really fun visiting all those new places and everything and it will be quite a good experience and everything as well.”

He added: “It will be good to go out and do something and actually give something back.”

Thomas, who enjoys mountain biking and hopes to study science at university, is enjoying much better health thanks to a new procedure he underwent, but there is uncertainty around how long it will last.

“I have really just got on with it [health problems],” Thomas said.

Justin, whose partner is Samantha, said they were hoping to depart in May next year visiting countries such as Iraq, Fiji and Ireland on their three-month journey.

The plane, a Supermarine Spitfire MK26B, has been manufactured by an Australian-owned company in Texas, USA.

Justin, who owns a business importing wood, said it cost about �250,000, but an original would cost millions.

He is pushing for as much support as possible - he has even written to Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron - to ensure the challenge is a success.

The around-the-world Spitfire challenge is the first in what Justin hopes is a series of challenges over five years, including pole to pole.

For more information, including to sponsor, visit www.spitfireworldchallenge.com.

Also visit the Spitfire World Challenge page on Facebook. For more information on the ICHF visit www.babyheart.org.

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