North Devon Hospice Press Release

Published - 30th May 2023
Hospice Logo.001

Students at Petroc College in Barnstaple are helping to support patients and families at North Devon Hospice after assembling a microlight plane as part of their Build A Plane project.

Since November 2022, 7 students studying a range of A-Level and vocational courses have been working together with an experienced team of retired engineers to build the Sky Ranger Swift 3 – a light aircraft with a capacity of 2 – from scratch.

After completing the build over several months, students will unveil the plane to guests and charity partners including North Devon Hospice at the college on Wednesday 10th March. As part of the unveiling, the hospice logo will be attached to the plane to help spread awareness of the charity and the vital care they provide to local people facing the impacts of a life-limiting illness like cancer.

“The aim of this project was to bring students together to take on the challenge of building a fully functional plane from scratch within 1 academic year,” said Ken Charman, Project Lead for the Build A Place project. “During that time, not only have the students worked incredibly hard to complete the build alongside their studies but they have also grown in confidence and acquired valuable life skills that will help them overcome real-world challenges. To be able to support an incredible local charity like North Devon Hospice in the process has been the cherry on top of a superb project.”

North Devon Hospice provides care for local people like John who are affected by cancer and other life-limiting illnesses. As well as offering support at home, patients can also be admitted to their Bedded Unit when symptoms become more severe, for help with pain management and to make them feel as comfortable as possible when they need it most.

Louis Orton, one of the students helping to assemble the plane was delighted to be part of the project. “I’ve loved taking part in the plane build!’ said Louis. “It’s been great fun and awesome to support the hospice while learning new skills.”

Ali Hunt, Head of Fundraising at North Devon Hospice, said what a privilege it was for the hospice to be chosen as one of the charity partners for the Build A Plane project. “To see young people within our community coming together to use their skills and teamwork to build this amazing plane while taking the opportunity to champion local hospice care is just wonderful! To everyone involved, thank you so much for all your hard work and for helping to let patients and families know that we are here, to wrap them up in our care during their toughest times.”

Following the plane’s unveiling, it will undergo an inspection, approval, and testing process in line with legal regulations before being transported to RMB Chivenor for an upcoming Open Day, where students and partners will have the exciting opportunity to fly in the self-built plane. Additionally, it is hoped that students will also have the chance to take flying lessons in the plane to carry out flypasts at charity events across the summer before the plane is sold.

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