Join the 'big pull' to raise £100,000

Charity bid by controllers will give disabled children chance to fly

Prospect members have been asked to back a unique bid to give disabled adults and children the opportunity to take to the air and enjoy a liberating and inspiring experience.

The union's Air Traffic Control Officers branch is seeking to raise £100,000 for the charity Aerobility, which offers flying opportunities to a wide range of individuals including disabled children, profoundly ill adults and recovering servicemen and women, by working closely with charities such as Battle Back. Aerobility aim to use the gift of flight to improve self-esteem and to stimulate achievement with associated therapeutic benefit.

The branch's fundraising has been running for 10 months and will culminate on 3 June when the ATCOs' branch executive will be one of ten teams competing in The Big Pull event to pull a vintage second world war aircraft along the historic main straight at the Goodwood motor racing course. Some of the other events undertaken by ATCOs' branch members so far include:

  • The Big Game, a mammoth 250-game tennis match
  • The Big Cycle, where three members are currently cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats
  • The Big Tour, which will see two ATCOs visit the most northerly, southerly, westerly and easterly NATS' radar sites on motorcycle.

These are just a few examples of the efforts being made by members under the challenge to 'do something big.'

Branch chair Paul Winstanley said: "When we were looking to adopt a branch charity we were blown away when we visited Aerobility. You cannot fail to be touched and inspired by their work and how it changes people's lives for ever.  Our members have made a huge effort to support this fantastic charity and so far we have managed to raise over £80,000, of which the first £20,000 was matched by our employer NATS. We would be grateful for any donation you can make, no matter how small, to help us achieve our £100,000 target." 

The money raised will be used to purchase an aircraft which will be specially equipped to allow people who would normally be unable to have the opportunity to fly.

On 2 June a ball and charity auction will also be held at Goodwood House in aid of the appeal. Tickets are available at £90 per person (minimum 2, maximum 12) by emailing