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Exhibition opening - Pilots of the Caribbean: Volunteers of African Heritage in the Royal Air Force

1 November 2013

On Friday 1st November the Royal Air Force Museum will unveil its brand new exhibition, Pilots of the Caribbean: Volunteers of African Heritage in the Royal Air Force.

Join us alongside Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE for the official unveiling of this exhibition which tells the story of the African Caribbean personnel, commemorating and celebrating their vital contribution to the defence of Britain, her Empire and Commonwealth.

Talks will begin at 3pm in front of the exhibition in Historic Hangars with the official unveiling taking place at 4pm.

This event is free of charge for all visitors and guests.

Speaker Profiles

 

Peter Dye OBE, Director General at the Royal Air Force Museum  

Peter Dye OBE, Director General of the RAF Museum
Air Vice-Marshal Dye has served in the Royal Air Force for over 35 years. With a degree in aeronautical engineering from Imperial College, he has more than 20 years’ experience of frontline operations, including the maintenance and support of numerous aircraft types ranging from the Victor and Vulcan to the Jaguar and Tornado.  Whilst with the Defence Aviation Repair Agency, he led the aircraft division responsible for the overhaul and deep repair of the majority of the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army fixed wing and rotary fleets.

He was awarded the OBE for his achievements in support of the Jaguar Force during the Gulf War. During his long Service career he has filled a number of demanding staff appointments and is currently leading the efforts to transform the Royal Air Force Museum to meet the needs of the 21st Century.

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE was introduced to the House of Lords as a Life Peer nominated by the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

Floella's early career started when she became a household name as a presenter in children’s TV programmes Play Away and Play School.

Prolific in many areas of the media, Floella has continued her work in television and radio as well as writing over twenty books.

Floella was awarded an OBE in 2001 for her services to broadcasting. She also has a Lifetime Achievement award from BAFTA.

 



Sam King MBE

Sam King MBE

Sam King MBE was born in 1926 and joined the RAF as an 18-year-old in 1944. He served in Britain until 1947, and on demob, went back to Jamaica. The following year, Mr King decided to re-join the RAF, returning to Britain on board the Empire Windrush on 21st June 1948. He remained in the RAF until 1953, before beginning a 34-year career with the Post Office.


After six months serving as a local councillor, Mr King was in 1983 elected Mayor of Southwark. At that time he was the only black mayor serving in London. Throughout his life in this country, Sam King has been a pillar both of his local community and of the wider black British community.

Stephen Bourne, London based historian writes: "The role that Sam King played in the field of black history is hard to overestimate. His achievements speak for themselves, but are all the more impressive for having been accomplished in the difficult times of post-war Britain." 

 

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson was born in late 1950s London, the son of a Jamaican father and an English mother who had met while in teacher training college.

Shortly after Mark started secondary school the family decided to move to Jamaica. He attended high school in Kingston, leaving two years early to join the Jamaica Defence Force as an Officer Cadet at the age of seventeen.

After graduating from the Indian Military Academy, Mark returned to the JDF where he served as an infantry officer conducting anti-narcotics trafficking operations and confronting armed political gangs on the back streets of downtown Kingston. After the army, he entered the corporate security arena, returning to the UK with his wife and children in the 1990's to work with Cable & Wireless. Mark branched out into a writing career a few years ago and he is on the verge of publishing his third book, Caribbean Volunteers at War (Pen & Sword) while already working on his fourth.

 

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