Boy's letter to mend grandad's broken heart ends with Goodwood Spitfire flight
A WWII enthusiast will celebrate his 80th birthday in style with a flight on a Spitfire thanks to his grandson's heartfelt letter to Goodwood.
Malcolm Hanson will take off from the airfield near Chichester tomorrow (Friday, May 28) after 11-year-old Harrison took it upon himself to find a way to cheer his grandad up, after his wife had to be put into a nursing home last summer.
"My mum has been very ill with Alzheimer's," said Malcolm's daughter Charlotte. "We really struggled as a family.
"We didn't want to put her in a nursing home, and did everything we could, but it got to the point where she was having so many falls and spending so much time in hospital. We didn't really have any choice.
"It was the last thing my dad ever wanted to do and it broke him."
Harrison, who is 'really close' with his grandad, noticed that his 'mind was on other things' and wanted to find a way to make him smile.
Charlotte added: "They are like two peas in a pod.
"He wrote a letter and wanted me to help him find a place to send it. When I read it, it just made me bawl my eyes out.
"It said 'can you help me mend my grandad's broken heart'.
"He was worrying and wanted to help him smile again. The only time he felt he had his grandad's full attention, and when he was happy, was when he was talking about WW2, of which they both share an interest.
"My dad talks to him a lot about it and shares his own family history. He was born in Battersea and his earliest memory was when he was aged four, seeing the planes go over and him and his sister running to the air raid shelter."
With some financial help from his parents, Harrison managed to raise enough money for his grandad's surprise by doing chores round the house and offering to do garden work for other family members.
The family, from Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey, sent Harrison's letter to airfields and private Spitfire owners in the UK, asking for someone to help.
Charlotte said: "We spoke to Boultbee Academy and Goodwood. Their managing director has been so lovely. He came back to say it was a touching story and said yes, they would get my dad booked in."
Staff at Boultbee Academy were so touched by the youngster's letter that they offered to also send him up in a 1940s Harvard.
"He doesn't know that part is happening," Charlotte added. "He is being told on the day at the airfield.
"My dad is very excited. He's a little bit nervous but is absolutely adamant he wants to do the aerobatics.
"Harri is beside himself with excitement. The reason we chose is Goodwood, is that my dad and my mum used to holiday, as teenagers, in Selsey.
"To be able to fly over the coastline, we felt it would be the right place for him."