Searching for funds
By this time David Walton’s family business had already funded the project to the tune of £500,000 but had now reached its limit. It was clear that it was going to cost a great deal more than the sums that were then forthcoming from voluntary donations, to get XH558 airborne again. David Walton, Robert Pleming and colleagues set about finding ways to bring in more money to the project. Failure to do this, they warned, could result in the Vulcan being sold to an interested American purchaser. This brought a strong response from many people concerned that such a valuable British heritage asset might leave the country, so the project team established the Vulcan to the Sky (VTS) programme, a major fundraising and PR campaign.
In itself VTS could not produce anything like the several million pounds required, so an application was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2002. The bid was rejected. With a very strong public reaction to this rejection the HLF advised VTS ahead of the submission of a revised application in May 2003. This included an education programme that would take the story of the Cold War to the widest possible audience.
When it became clear that there would be no substantive application to return a Concorde to flight, the HLF announced on 23 June 2004, that it would initially award £2,734,000 to the VTS project, thus enabling the administrative processes to get under way.
The first of these was to ‘purchase’ XH558 for the nation from its owner C Walton Ltd on 3 March 2005 for a nominal sum, allowing the newly established Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) to proceed with the preparations to get the Vulcan flying. The HLF grant, together with the partnership funding raised by donation, corporate support and fundraising, all helped to make up the initial £3,970,000 required for the project.