More than £750,000 has been given to the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Appeal by a Lincolnshire-based donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
The enormous sum of £757,000 represents a massive boost to the appeal and guarantees that the construction of the planned memorial –The Spire of Names – will definitely go ahead.
Canwick Hill is the location for the 50m (164 ft) steel spire that will bear the names of every one of the 25,611 airmen killed in the Second World War who were based in Lincolnshire.
The spire, pictured left, faces Lincoln Cathedral which was used as a beacon by pilots and navigators making their way home after bombing sorties.
Plans also include a visitor centre and memorial garden.
This new contribution towards the £5m appeal, which was launched by a trust last May, takes the current total to £1.4m.
Chairman of the trust, the Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire Tony Worth, said: “This generous contribution means that the memorial itself is now fully funded, which is fantastic, particularly so soon after we launched the appeal.
“It now allows us time to secure funding for the interpretation centre and the memorial park from other funding sources, much of which is already in progress.
“We obviously have a way to go to reach our target of £5m but this is a huge step in the right direction.”
The trust has already held a number of fundraising events and more are planned throughout 2014.
These, plus support from many of the county’s businesses and private individuals, has meant significant progress has been made in reaching the fund target.
In recognition of the national and international aspects of the project, the trust is also working to secure funding from a number of international organisations with connections to Lincolnshire or to Bomber Command.
For the Lord-Lieutenant there is a very personal aspect to fronting the appeal which, coupled with his passion for the county, has seen it become his primary project.
His grandfather was one of the very first to join the RAF - his membership number was 76. He served in Bomber Command and thankfully survived.
About 125,000 airmen served in Bomber Command during the Second World War, with a casualty rate of 42 per cent, making it more dangerous than to serve in the infantry during the First World War.
Of the 25,611 Lincolnshire-based aircrew who died, 46 per cent flew out of the county, never to return. A total of 55,573 men were killed, 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 were made prisoners of war. They were not only from the UK, but from the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.
The interpretation centre will house a series of displays, commemorating ground crew and aircraft and engine manufacturers, as well as air crew.
An educational facility will employ a worker dedicated to hosting groups of schoolchildren.
There will be two peace gardens. One will honour the 27 county bases and feature a tree planted in soil taken from each station and with a stone marker for each one.
The international peace garden will display sculptures from every country involved and pay tribute to the sacrifice made by those nations.
The official launch of the appeal in May last year was at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre where an audience of 350 guests included Bomber Command veterans.
The event featured the unveiling of The Spire of Names, the winning design created by award-winning structural artist Walter Jack, in conjunction with leading design company Atkins.
It is hoped the structures will stand as a significant contemporary location for remembrance and as something that has international appeal for generations to come.
More information about the appeal can be found at www.lincsbombercommandmemorial.com.