Cambridgeshire couple behind NHS Spitfire flypast given special award by Prime Minister

The World War Two spitfire performed a special flypast to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS. Credit: George Lewis Romain

A Cambridgeshire spitfire pilot and his wife have been given a special award by the Prime Minister.

John and Amanda Romain organised a flypast over some of the region's hospitals, including Addenbrooke's and Royal Papworth in Cambridge over the summer, in tribute to the NHS.

The flypast took off from Duxford where John and Amanda run the ‘Aircraft Restoration Company.'

Staff at the hospitals watched and applauded as the fighter aircraft, which had the words 'Thank U NHS' written on its underside, soared over their heads.

  • Watch a short video of the spitfire tribute flight over the Anglia region

The couple have been given a Points of Light award for all their efforts through the pandemic.

They have also raised more than £78,000 for NHS charities by decorating the Spitfire with the names of NHS heroes in return for donations, with Amanda applying all the names by hand to the plane.

In a personal letter to John and Amanda, Boris Johnson thanked them for organising the "uplifting flypasts."


Your uplifting flypasts and fundraising efforts are a fantastic way of expressing gratitude to the extraordinary men and women of the NHS.

Boris Johnson

"I wanted to write to you both personally to thank you for bringing ‘The NHS Spitfire Project’ to our skies", the Prime Minister said.

"The glorious image of your Spitfire, decorated with the names of our NHS heroes, infuses us with the sense of fortitude which defines our nation’s history."

Speaking to ITV News Anglia ahead of the flight, pilot John Romain said they wanted to do something special to show their appreciation. Credit: John Romain

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement, John and Amanda said: “On behalf of our family, we are honoured to receive a Points of Light award for the NHS Spitfire charity project.

"It all began with an idea around a family table during lockdown to fly our beloved photo-reconnaissance Spitfire ‘L’ around the local villages for the #clapforourcarers with ’THANK U NHS’ emblazoned on the underside of the aircraft.

“We hoped it would lift the community spirit and it did, the response was utterly overwhelming. We weren’t prepared for the emotionally charged messages of support and gratitude that we received for that first flight, it was what paved the way for the development of the NHS Spitfire project.

"Our aim was to involve the nation, enabling them to become a part of the story whilst raising funds for NHS Charities Together. Having now flown over hundreds of NHS hospitals and with thousands of names hand-written onto the Spitfire, we are humbled to have been able to give those in our communities a way of saying a simple Thank you.”