Warm tributes have been paid to ACM Sir Michael Graydon, who has stepped down as President of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. Sir Michael has led the charity during 17 years of remarkable expansion, including last year’s unveiling of the Trust’s new Wing visitor centre by Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
At a gala dinner in the RAF Club in London on Wednesday, attended by His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, Sir Michael handed over the Presidency to another former Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Dalton.
Trust Chairman Richard Hunting CBE described Sir Michael’s time at the helm of the charity responsible for the National Memorial to the Few in Kent as “17 years in which you have been our most stalwart supporter and guide”.
He added: “You and your wife Liz have seen the Trust change from a tiny operation run on a shoestring to a professional outfit running the nation’s tribute to the Few, and recognised as such by everyone.”
As a pilot with 56 Squadron, Sir Michael flew the English Electric Lightning, the first British aircraft that could reach Mach 2 in level flight.
The Chairman pointed out that 56 Squadron was also the unit with which the Trust’s founder, Wing Commander Geoffrey Page, was flying when his Hurricane was shot down at the height of the Battle of Britain on August 12 1940, leaving him badly burned.
As Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Michael was present at Capel-le-Ferne on a “horribly wet and windy July day” in 1993 when Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother unveiled the Battle of Britain Memorial. Also at the unveiling was the President at that time, Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, who had flown Hurricanes during the Battle and who, six years later, persuaded Sir Michael to take over the role.
Incoming President Sir Stephen Dalton was Chief of the Air Staff from 2009 to 2013. He flew both the Jaguar and Tornado fast jets operationally and played a major role in bringing the Eurofighter Typhoon into RAF service.