Biggin Hill cafe’s new Spitfire print is a tribute to customer’s late brother

By Luke King in Community News

A BIGGIN HILL cafe’s collection of interesting artefacts has been boosted with the recent donation of a Spitfire print.

Regular customer Peter Rutledge, from Meopham, Kent, has been visiting the Spitfire on Main Road every week for the last two-and-a-half-years with his girlfriend Rose, from Biggin Hill.

In that time, Peter has donated a bust of Sir Winston Churchill for customers to enjoy looking at, as well as a signed photograph of Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces’ sweetheart.

More recently, he presented the cafe with a framed Spitfire print. Cafe proprietor Sally O’Connor explains: “Over a cuppa, Peter started to tell me about his brother and how Peter would tell him  about the cafe, how he and Rosie love to come for lunch and look at all the memorabilia.

“Peter’s brother told him about a Suffolk artist called Steven Banks who painted Spitfire SW-K. The plane was flown by flight lieutenant Fred Pawsey DFC during WW2.

“Unfortunately, Peter’s brother became very ill and passed away. Peter said that he preferred to remember people by memories and deeds so he purchased a print of the painting and donated it to the Spitfire Cafe.

“He said that seeing the painting in the Spitfire Cafe would be a tribute to his brother.”

Sally added: “We are a family-run business, and since taking over the cafe four years ago, the history of Biggin Hill has become very dear to me.

“We have turned our cafe into a ‘mini museum’, as our customers call it. My husband Barry and I sincerely thank Peter for all his support.”

Sally is a keen fundraiser for the London Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, which organises free transportation for veterans with the help of volunteer London taxi drivers.

The Spitfire Cafe is hosting a VIP marquee for veterans at this year’s Festival of Flight event at Biggin Hill airport on August 19 and hopes to raise more than £1,500 for the charity - a sum that will be matched by Barclays of Biggin Hill.

“Avalon Aero, a company based in Biggin Hill, has kindly donated £500, while Allan White from Capital Car and Van Hire has loaned us a refrigerated van so we can provide food and drink for our veterans,” says Sally.

“William from Shepherd Neame has donated 160 bottle of Spitfire ale to get the Festival of flight VIP party going with swing.”

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