In a press release issued on 13 June, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust confirmed that Avro Vulcan B2 XH558 will stay at Doncaster Sheffield Airport until the end of the year. It also confirmed that a new chief executive has been appointed by the trust.
Taking over the reins is Marc Walters, the position of CEO having been unfilled since the death of founder Dr Robert Pleming in January 2021. During the intervening period, development director Michael Trotter has led the charity and worked closely with Marc to broker the extension of the lease with Peel Holdings, owners of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, for Vulcan to remain there while options for a permanent home are fully explored. Michael will remain involved in the charity in an advisory role.
Marc Walters said, “I’ve had the pleasure of working for the VTST for seven years. Sadly I joined after XH558 had stopped flying, but I have been lucky enough to work closely with Robert, Michael, and our amazing volunteers. This is a very exciting time to take over as CEO and lead the charity through this extremely important period.
“During my time with the Trust I’ve witnessed the huge adoration for the aircraft. Having talked to many supporters over the years about times they’ve seen her fly I know there’s a lot of emotional attachment to the Vulcan and particularly XH558.
“My previous role saw me managing the commercial operations for the charity. I’ve seen the challenges the trust has had to face and been a part of the journey to develop into even more of an education-focused charity, a charity that will continue to showcase Vulcan XH558 to inspire young people into STEM subjects.
“Our immediate focus is to fully explore all options regarding a permanent home for XH558. This is an opportunity for us to ensure that XH558 is located in a home where her supporters can visit and when she can continue to inspire the next generation of engineers while preserving the heritage of this amazing aircraft.
“It is a real honour to be at the helm of the charity at this time and I’m looking forward to working with the volunteers and supporters to ensure that we deliver Robert’s legacy and do XH558 proud.”
The news that the Vulcan will not have to leave Doncaster Sheffield Airport until the year’s end comes as the site’s future has started to look brighter again. The airfield was closed to flying on 4 November 2022, Peel Holdings having stated that it was not a viable prospect in financial terms as an active airport. However, local efforts aimed at reopening appear to have taken a significant step forward with news on 12 June that Doncaster Council will receive £3.1 million from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to enable preparation of a compulsory purchase order for the airport. Negotiations will also take place with Peel over a lease, and the Civil Aviation Authority regarding airspace. A statement from Doncaster’s mayor of Ros Jones, the mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard and Doncaster’s three MPs described Peel as “unwilling sellers” who have “not gone to the open market or made any effort to sell the airport as an operational airport and working business”. It added, “As elected officials of Doncaster we fully support the work to save our airport…”