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John Harrison, aged 20, whose family home is in Horsham (West Sussex) has won the Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarship for 2013.

At a special ceremony at Biggin Hill Airport today, John was presented by Mrs Alina Davidson with his flight bag containing the syllabus, study books and equipment that will assist in his training programme that will commence at Biggin Hill Airport immediately.

Over 40 applications for the scholarship were received by Captain Gary Merchant, a close friend of the late Captain Nick Davidson, who agreed to take on the administration of the scholarship in honour of his long friendship and the generous bequest to fund the scholarship.

“The judging process proved to be a true challenge for me and my small team of advisors because the quality of the applications and the determination shown by the young applicants in the tests and at interview. After short-listing the top four for further practical flying tests, it became clear that John Harrison was the top candidate from the overall results of the selection process” says Gary Merchant.

The Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarship provides a full flying training programme up to the standard of the European Private Pilots Licence consisting of 45 hours flying and parallel ground school training in a series of related subjects such as Aviation Law and Navigation. The training programme will be carried out with the Surrey & Kent Flying Club, supported by Biggin Hill Airport Ltd. The value of the scholarship is £9,000.

Born in February 1993 in West Sussex, John Harrison attended The Forest School in Horsham, moving on to nearby Richard Collyer College for Sixth Form. He currently attends the Central Sussex College in Crawley (West Sussex) to study Aeronautical Engineering. He is now in his 2nd year on an Extended Diploma course for a BTEC at Level 3.

At 17, John joined No 1015 (Horsham) squadron, Air Training Corps, to pursue his strong interest in becoming a pilot. He completed both Silver and Gold awards for gliding at the RAF’s Central Gliding School at RAF Syerston, Notts.
As an ATC cadet, John reached the rank of Cadet Flight Sergeant and towards the end of his time with 1015 squadron, he received Best NCO award for 2012 for ‘Outstanding conduct, dedication and service to 1015 (Horsham) squadron’ reflecting his work in promoting interest in gliding and coordinating gliding scholarships to other eligible cadets in the unit.

John is furthering his gliding experience by joining 615 Volunteer Gliding Squadron at RAF Kenley as a Flight Staff Cadet. He will become a civilian gliding instructor.

For the future, John’s immediate aspiration is to complete his studies at College in Aeronautical Engineering, thereafter to join the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy as a Pilot. Beyond these early horizons, he aims eventually to qualify as an airline pilot and to fly with one of the big airlines such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, he says.

Alina Davidson says that she has been delighted with the response to the 2013 Memorial Scholarship and highly impressed with the commitment and dedication of all the applicants.

“I want to thank Gary Merchant for his inspirational work in creating the scheme in memory of my late husband Nick and for running it so efficiently, also to Jenny Munro at Biggin Hill Airport for the wonderful support and back-up that she has provided from the outset, also to the Bamrah’s at the Surrey & Kent Flying Club who now have the responsibility for training our most worthy 2013 winner” she said.

“I am very pleased to continue the scholarship programme for another year and to confirm that there will be a Nick Davidson Memorial Scholarship in 2014 and have asked Gary to find another worthy winner again next year” said Alina.

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