PADDINGTON and the Tornado GR4

What does a small talking bear and the Tornado GR4 have in common, not a question that often appears in an aircraft capability brief?

However those keen eyed amongst you that have been to see Paddington 2 following its recent release might have noticed the name of one of the cast members, a rather large green cast member called Tornado, a the steam locomotive. Starring alongside a multitude of brilliant British cast members and of course the marmalade munching star of the film himself, Tornado enjoys its first big screen role as it helps Paddington and the Browns get out of a number of deliciously sticky situations.

The affiliation with RAF Marham and Tornado first occurred last year, when, as part of the centenary activity it was rededicated with a station crest by the station padre at a ceremony at the Nene Valley Railway. It was originally named in honour of the Tornado aircraft and crews that flew and supported it during the first Gulf War and the subsequent enduring commitment to operations on behalf of the UK for the years to come. Therefore it was only right that the last base that would fly the aircraft would sport the crest for years to come, long after its namesake had been consigned to the history books.

What is more remarkable is that despite its traditional appearance Tornado is actually only 9 years old and was built from scratch over 18 years by a dedicated group of professionals and volunteers. In an extraordinary project that tested engineering precision, ingenuity and the requirement for many long lost skills, along with a commercial operating and marketing expertise allowing the locomotive to be financially viable, a film star was born. The locomotive can be found regularly crossing the UK on rail tours, taking train loads of passengers almost from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, attracting crowds of people wherever is goes.

One such recent trip was a bit of Royal affair when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry joined children from the charities they support on board at Paddington station as part of the events surrounding the movie. The event was hosted by the film company and supported by BAFTA through its BAFTA Kids programme and was an opportunity for members of Their Royal Highnesses’ Charities Forum to nominate some of the children they support for a special trip aboard the train used in the movie.

If you want to know more about the many travels of Tornado have a look at the Trust website: www.a1steam.com

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