Meet the Team

Image by Alan Matlock – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Our Patron

Squadron Leader Mandy Singleton, RAF.

Mandy has been in the RAF for 30 years and is currently the Senior Engineering Officer of The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Based at RAF Conningsby, Lincolnshire, Mandy is in charge of the team of RAF engineers who are tasked with maintaining the BBMF planes in airworthy condition. This entails looking after the nuts and bolts, rivets and paintwork on two Chipmunks, a Dakota, a Lancaster, two Hurricanes and no less than six Spitfires!

Mandy says, “I find it an honour to be patron of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, and I fully support the intent to remember everyone that contributed to the colourful history of the mighty Spitfire aircraft. During my time on the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight I have truly begun to understand not only the beauty of this iconic aircraft, but also the dedication of the people behind it and its success. The BBMF enjoys their many interactions with veterans and with closer links between (us) and the Trust we can better remember all who played their part.”

We are all excited to know that her role with the heritage planes of the BBMF, and the Spitfires in particular, is a perfect fit to reflect the fact that so many Spitfire Makers involved in the wartime production of the Spitfire were women.

Image Courtesy of RAF

Our Honorary President

Don Smith

80 years ago, 14 year old Don was an apprentice with Auto Metalcraft in Emsworth Road, Shirley, making Spitfire jettison fuel tanks and air filters.

His tales of life in the early years of the war in Southampton are amongst the most vivid and detailed we have heard and, in recognition of the work he did then for Vickers Supermarine and the research he continues to help us with, we have great pleasure to recognise him as an Honorary President of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust.

Image by Alan Matlock – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Our Honorary President

Margaret White

Margaret was just 16 years old in September 1940 when she was working in the Accounts and Wages Department on the 4th floor of the newly completed Vickers Supermarine office block.

Margaret’s moving descriptions of her experiences during the bombing raids which eventually destroyed the factory, and killed and injured several of her colleagues, have been an inspiration to us all, and her help with our research has been invaluable.

We are honoured that Margaret has agreed to become an Honorary President of the Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust.

Image by Alan Matlock – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Chair & Trustee

Alan Matlock

Alan is a retired teacher and performed in the 2018 and 2019 productions of “The Shadow Factory” at the new Nuffield Theatre, Southampton. Portraying the story of the 1940 bombing of the Spitfire factories, he wanted to know more about the story behind the onstage action and, with the formation of The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust, has brought together a team of enthusiasts to take this incredible, true story of triumph over adversity to an even wider audience.

He says, “We’re doing this to honour the part played by these many war time workers in making the planes which were then flown by “The Few”, and helped to change the course of history.”

Image by Alan Matlock – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Treasurer & Trustee

Michaela Lawler-Levene

Michaela is a former Adult and Community Education Lecturer and Manager, currently working at Solent University Library, Southampton. 

For eight years from 2008 Michaela ran the Heritage Lottery Funded, Shirley Heritage Project and recorded stories of several people who had been ‘Spitfire Makers’ during WW2. She says, “I also have several family links including my grandfather who was an RAF engineer maintaining Hurricanes and Spitfires and my great-grandfather was an engineer in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1.”

Through the work of Spitfire Makers Michaela is keen for the local WW2 manufacture of Spitfires to be more widely known and especially the roles played by the many women involved in the production.

Image by Michaela Lawler-Levene – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Secretary & Trustee

Christine Richards

Christine, a retired Information Governance and Administration manager, is greatly interested in family and social history.  A lifelong Sotonian, she knew of RJ Mitchell and the local Spitfire connection but had no idea about the “secret” dispersal of Spitfire production to the unusual locations around the town and, specifically Shirley where she lives. 

She says, “I was inspired to join the Spitfire Makers after hearing a talk by Alan Matlock on the dispersal operation and how ordinary women, like me, were suddenly co-opted into making parts for the Spitfire in locations as diverse as the Parish Hall, where Alan’s talk took place, a laundry, and several other buildings in the Shirley area. Such a story should be commemorated and recorded to ensure that it is never forgotten.”

Image by Christine Richards – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Vicki Stacey

Team Member

Vicki, a local history enthusiast, recently led the Heritage Lottery-funded “Out of the Shadows” community project. It took the inspiring story of how, in spite of the Blitz, the people of Southampton continued to work together to build an extraordinary plane.

“During the project,” she says, “I had the privilege of listening to and recording memories of local women and men who shared their own Spitfire-related stories.”

Currently supporting Solent Sky Museum with their new Home Front exhibition, Vicki adds, “We need to give the many people in Southampton and beyond who were Spitfire Makers the respect they so rightly deserve and to keep the memories of their incredible achievement alive for future generations.”

Image by Vicki Stacey – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Liz Webb

Team Member

Liz trained from age 16 as an Architectural Technician and has worked in this field for 35 years. Working with older and listed buildings some in conservation areas has heightened her interest in local history.  

From 2011 to 2012, having helped with the research and done a presentation for the centenary of a local school building, she volunteered for the “Out of The Shadows” project and interviewed a former Supermarine worker whose first job after leaving school, aged 14, was to repair damaged Spitfire wings. Liz sees her involvement with Spitfire Makers as a tribute to both him and all the many ordinary people, locally and nationally, whose lives changed forever as they learned new trades to produce the thousands of Spitfires that were needed during WWII. 

Image by Liz Webb – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Robert Stidworthy

Team Member

Robert is a retired Ford Motor Company worker. He has been an aircraft enthusiast since the age of five and, although he likes the Lancaster, Hurricane, Mosquito and Mustang, it’s the Spitfire at the top of his list of favourite WW2 planes. He has even taken to the skies in one – flying from Goodwood aerodrome in a Duxford-based two seater.

Robert has been a volunteer guide at Southampton’s Solent Sky aircraft museum for over seven years and says, “I joined the Spitfire Makers team because I want to see the people who helped to build the Spitfire during the dark days of the war recognised more, as we owe them all a great debt.”

Image by Robert Stidworthy – The Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

Sarah Penfold

Team Member

Sarah is a professional photographer. She has been a volunteer at Solent Sky museum for just over four years and her involvement is down to her grandfather, Ted Angel, who made Spitfire wings from the early days at Woolston.

Sarah says “He loved everything to do with the Spitfire and my promise to him, shortly before he passed away, was to keep his Spitfire shiny.” She explains, “By being a volunteer at Solent Sky and now with Spitfire Makers, I keep the stories he shared with me and my family alive. I am so proud of my grandad and it’s an honour to be able to help in this way and get recognition for the wonderful people who built such an amazing aircraft.”

Image by Sarah Penfold – Spitfire Makers Charitable Trust

David Kessel

Team Member

David Kessel who is a retired Head of English and Communications Faculty as well as an ex Chief Examiner, sees membership of The Spitfire Makers Charity fulfilling his lifelong interest and belief in the importance of education in the lives of young people throughout history. Through the charity’s locating and recording details of how the Spitfire inspired wartime Britain, and young girls and women so competently and bravely kept production flowing despite all the hardships, this very important period of history may live on to be available and known by so many future generations.

Johhny Carrington

Team Member

Johnny is a local Drama teacher, playwright, actor and private pilot with a passion for the Spitfire. He has just achieved his dream to fly in a Spitfire and is still on Cloud 9!

Dave Key

The Supermariners Website

Consultant to Spitfire Makers

We work very closely with Dave who provides consultancy advice to the project. Dave is a local historian and volunteer curator of the archives at Hursley Park, (wartime home of the Supermarine Management and Drawing Office).  Dave developed and manages the website “The Supermariners” which contains a wealth of information relating to both Supermarine and the Spitfire. He is frequently contacted by the media, contributing to historical programmes, and was Historical Adviser for the book, ‘The Spitfire Kids’ by Alasdair Cross, based on the BBC podcast, ‘SPITFIRE: THE PEOPLE’S PLANE.’

Image by David Key – The Supermariners website

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