Encouraging young people to let their dreams fly

Youth month on Virgin.com has got me reflecting on all the wonderful letters I’ve received from kids. Asking for my advice, giving me advice, tales of triumph and achievement, and stories of incredible kindness – I’ve loved reading them.
 

Richard Branson on Moskito writing notes

Here’s one that’s always stuck in my mind…
 
In the 1980s the UK government sold Concorde to British Airways for £1, stating that if another British company ever wanted to operate the fleet it could do so for the same fee. In 2003, we made an offer to British Airways to buy five operational Concorde aircraft that were due to go out of service.
 
In the 1980s the UK government sold Concorde to British Airways for £1, stating that if another British company ever wanted to operate the fleet it could do so for the same fee. In 2003, we made an offer to British Airways to buy five operational Concorde aircraft that were due to go out of service.

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Our offer received great media coverage, and sparked the attention of a lot of people – including sharp-witted seven year old, Eric Fitchett. I was pleasantly surprised and very amused to receive a letter from Eric, declaring that he wanted in on our deal.
 
Eric explained: “I still have some birthday money left over, so can I buy a Concorde? You can keep it with your other planes and I will clean it for you. Also one of your pilots can teach me how to fly.”
 
Admiring Eric’s proactivity and entrepreneurial zest, I gave him a call. I explained to the excited and articulate young aviation enthusiast that although he couldn’t buy a Concorde, he’d be welcome aboard on our first flight if we secured the deal. Sadly our effort to keep Concorde flying was rejected – even after we significantly raised our offer.

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While the Concorde deal didn’t work out, Eric’s dreams of learning to fly are being realised. In 2015 I received another letter from the Fitchett household – this time from Eric’s mother, Beulah – telling me that Eric was in Officer training for the RAF. After Officer duties Eric was to go to train as a pilot. 
 
People often shrug off the dreams and desires of children – placing them in fantasyland or the too-hard bucket. But there’s so much we can learn from the dogged determination and wide-eye enthusiasm of children. We should all dream, share our dreams, then go out and grab them with both hands.

Eric Fitchett

I wrote to Eric last year to say congratulations. If you’re reading this blog, Eric, I’d love to hear from you to find out how your training is going. I’m looking forward to seeing you in the skies one day.

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