A new crew on the flight deck at The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation

Back in early 2014 when the idea of apprenticeships specifically-aimed at the vehicle restoration sector was just getting hatched, many people were very supportive of the concept. However, in those early days there were two organisations who really stood out for going the extra mile in helping make it happen.

The first was P&A Wood, where under Paul and Andrew's nurturing watch, Workshop Manager Mark Hews recruited and trained exceptional apprentices on what seemed like, at the time, to be on an industrial scale!

The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, based near Towcester, was another. Not only has it awarded a prestigious prize every year to outstanding apprentices working on Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, but its has periodically arranged visits to Hunt House for the apprentices. These are a source of wonder, with a veritable treasure-trove of artefacts to inspire young minds. That a jobbing draftsman who designed cranes for a living and attended night-school to complete his engineering qualifications should have then gone on to design the world's best motor cars or the engines that powered the Spitfire and many other aircraft, should be a reminder, if one were needed, that engineering is best taught as a mix between practical and theory.

New Chair, Bill McGawley OBE also sat through many hours of helping refine the subsequent heritage engineering apprenticeship Standard that serves as the specification of what is taught to apprentices to this day. We are happy therefore to share the news that the Foundation has a new CEO.

The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation is an autonomous Charitable Trust, with extensive facilities based near Towcester. Its prime objects are to promote and preserve Sir Henry’s legacy of excellence in all things STEM. The Charity owns substantial facilities which includes a museum, Sir Henry Royce Artefacts, automotive library and an archive of vehicle build records for virtually every RR/Bentley vehicle ever manufactured. It also boasts conference facilities, and a catering suite for up to 80 people. The Charity works closely with the owners’ clubs and provides a key technical database for the restoration and maintenance of these historic vehicles. The Charity also provides an in-house lecture programme for members and non-members. In partnership with IMechE, IET, MoD, the Worshipful Company of Carmen and the heritage supply chain, the Trust decorates worthy candidates with the accolade of a Sir Henry Royce Medal for meritorious achievement.

Under its newly-appointed Independent Chair (Bill McGawley OBE), the Trustees now seek to re-position the Charity, enhance governance, develop a new modus operandii and to develop new partnerships. The Board is confident that there is substantial scope to capitalise further on its brand and assets.

To lead this mission, a new CEO has been appointed, with full tactical responsibility for all charitable, operational and administrative activities.

John Baker (pictured with a Merlin XX engine), an RAF veteran with personal links to the Merlin engine through relatives who flew spitfires and hurricanes during WWII, and over 10 years’ military service to Her Majesty, took-up this new role on 18th March. He has extensive in-service logistics experience of fast-jet serviceability and systems plus 25 years’ experience of charity management at executive level.

Bill McGawley (the Foundation Chairman) said:-

“The board decision to appoint John was unanimous as we all felt that his experience, track-record, technical knowledge and his respect for the legacy of Sir Henry made him an ideal fit for this important new role. We all look forward to working with him to enhance the sustainability and reach of the charity.”

John, who lives in rural Buckinghamshire with his wife, a charity finance professional, said:-

“The Foundation is currently a hidden gem. We ignore our engineering heritage at our peril. It is my sincere intention to lead the repositioning of the Royce Foundation and to make a direct impact on the STEM message for both regional and national economic benefit.”

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