Long serving Helicopter Museum boss set to retire

Elfan Ap Rees, the Chairman of Trustees for the Helicopter Museum in Weston-Super-Mare, has announced he is to stand down from the role

When Elfan leaves the post at the end of this month (October 2023) he will have presided over the charity for more than 40 years. Now he has been elected by his colleagues on the Board as Life President and Museum Founder with a continuing seat as a Trustee and attendance at meetings, to enable the museum to benefit from his many years of experience.

Elfan has explained his decision as being triggered by a review, to be carried out by an independent consultant to develop a succession plan for ageing key trustees, a process encouraged by The Heritage Lottery Fund as a prerequisite for securing future grant aid. 

“I shall be 82 next month and I have already been trying to delegate some of my workload to others to continue the museum’s success and growth,” he said. “A consultant has commented on the lack of diversity among the Trustees, and as we have a vacancy at present, a restructuring should give an opportunity to put that right”.

Elfan began collecting helicopter memorabilia from the age of 13, adding his first complete helicopter in 1969. Since then he has received a number of awards for his efforts to preserve helicopter history, including the John Schneider Award from the American Helicopter Society and the Honourable Company of Air Pilots Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of British prowess in rotary-wing aviation. He is also currently the Vice-President of Aviation Heritage UK, the umbrella body for all UK aviation museums.

Elfan Ap Rees is set to step down at the end of October
Elfan Ap Rees is set to step down at the end of October Helicopter Museum/Avia Press

Today the Helicopter Museum holds the world’s largest dedicated rotary-wing collection, with over 100 aircraft at its Weston airfield site, and has achieved this without ever borrowing money but relying on visitor income, grants and donations to succeed. Currently it is the top visitor attraction in Weston-Super-Mare according to Trip Advisor and relies on volunteers to restore and maintain the aircraft collection and to assist visitors in the retail, admissions, archives and hangar tours. Exhibits include the world’s fastest helicopter, various Russian and American and British military aircraft from past conflicts, and others actually built locally at the Bristol Aircraft and Westland Helicopter factory.

Any person interested in joining the museum as a trustee should send their CV to the museum, (Locking Moor Road, Weston-Super-Mare, BS24 8PP), especially if they have an engineering or education background that can be used to educate visiting students. Female applicants with these qualifications and interests will be especially welcome.

Elfan Ap Rees
Elfan Ap Rees Helicopter Museum/Avia Press