Tony Rutherford [LONDON]

When did you first join the volunteer team at RAFM?

I first visited RAF Museum London in 1989; I got talking to a small group of volunteers about their work and eventually decided to join the volunteer restoration team in 1991. When I first joined the team I worked on the German Aircraft, including the Heinkel 111, changing the scratched or broken windows of the aircraft for new Perspex sheets. I worked weekends for around 10 years in this role. During that time I also worked on the Stuka JU87, removing and cleaning the old fuel tank, this turned out to be a very difficult task as the tanks were made of rubber and once they were removed to be cleaned they expanded and it was a great struggle to get them back in to place! I was then selected to carry out regular inspections of the aircraft, a role I continue to do today.

What do you enjoy the most about the work?

Coming to the Museum and working with a great team of people and expanding my knowledge of the aircraft is a really great opportunity, and the cleaning also helps to keep me fit. One of my favourite aspects of volunteering at the Museum is talking to our visitors and sharing my knowledge of the aircraft with them. Visitors recognise me by my overalls and badges and often come over to ask about my own service. I completed National Service in the Artillery Regiment of the military, 1952-54.

Where did your interest in the RAF and aircraft begin?

I was at school in Horsham, Sussex during the Second World War and I remember the raids. One evening our house took a direct hit, I was at school, but my mother and uncle were home and took shelter under the stairs which after the explosion was the only thing left standing. Sometimes I would watch
the formations of German planes overhead as they flew towards London. This was very frightening when I was young, but when I first saw the Heinkel 111 at the RAF Museum I was fascinated.

After being here for 25 years, what do you think about the next chapter of the Museum, the RAF Centenary Programme?

The Museum has changed a lot during the last 25 years when I started the aircraft seemed to be kept at a distance and the galleries were much quieter. Now it’s much brighter and livelier with all the school groups we get during the week. I’m looking forward to seeing how all the new interactives bring more family visitors to the site. It’s always great to see the galleries full and hopefully the Programme will bring larger numbers of visitors to the site.

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering at the Museum?

Just do it. I’ve had a great time volunteering over the last 25 years and I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring.