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JANE DELAMAINE - The founder and Director of the Amy Johnson Project

The Amy Johnson Project was formed in 2015 under the name ‘The Amy Johnson Herne Bay Project Ltd’, with an objective to commission, fundraise and install a life size, life like bronze statue of Amy Johnson on the Herne Bay seafront to mark the 75th anniversary of her death in the waters off the town in 1941.

My work, however, began many years before this; initially in 2007 when I first read Midge Gillies excellent book ‘ Amy Johnson: Queen of the Air’, and then more so in 2009 when I moved to the town with my young family. Reading the book and moving to the town ignited a passion in me to understand more about Amy’s tragic death, and I began gently researching around the subject.

In 2011 I made contact with Midge Gillies and with the blessing of Amy’s family, I began exploring the many outstanding questions. It was apparent that very few people in the town appeared to know who Amy was, or that she had such a significant connection to Herne Bay. In fact, this point alone was challenged by some which fuelled my desire to understand more and the work began in earnest.

My greatest challenge was being taken seriously. I was asked “who are you?”, which actually meant “what do you do for a living?”. At the time I was a ‘stay at home’ mother to three young children. A demanding and full time job but a fact that appeared to lessen my value and in some cases the need to listen to me or answer my enquiries.

In similar fashion to Amy when she struggled to be taken seriously after announcing her plan to fly solo from England to Australia, I didn’t let that stop me; in fact it fuelled my passion even further. Without knowing it at the time, I was not only doing this for Amy, I was doing this for me.

What began as a fascination with an incredible woman and her story and a strong sense that she did not command the profile she deserved in history, has led to one adventure after another – my own epic solo flight into a new life of wreck hunting, historic research, public speaking, school outreach, a royal occasion, air shows and of course the bench the board and the bronze!

The research continues as will other projects to keep Amy’s memory alive, but I am very excited about the new focus for the project developing the FLY programme leading up to the festival marking the 100th anniversary of Amy’s epic flight in 2030. Ambitious plans for sure, but in true Amy spirit we must “believe nothing to be impossible”!